Attention, Shoppers 

East Memphis thrift shop gives back to local nonprofits.

Poppin' tags in Memphis has never been more locally sustainable.

Blues City Thrift, which opened in East Memphis this past March, not only donates its proceeds to local charities and encourages reuse of items that would otherwise end up in landfills, the shop even makes use of old light bulbs and display cases from other thrift stores and organizations that have gone out of business.

All profits from sales of clothing, knickknacks, books, home décor, and other items sold at Blues City Thrift are given to Memphis charities including the Church Health Center, Youth Leadership of Memphis, and the tuition assistance program for Westminster Academy.

Marvin Stockwell, communications manager of the Church Health Center, said Blues City Thrift's community support is what sets it apart from other thrift stores such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, which donate to their own national charities.

"We're so grateful to Blues City Thrift. The Church Health Center needs all the support it can get and having another entity reach out and say that it wants to help us, it's just Memphis supporting Memphis, and we couldn't be happier," Stockwell said.

Any items that don't sell over a period of time are donated to other organizations, such as S.O.S. (Service Over Self), Habitat for Humanity, and First Congregational Church. As for employees, the shop seeks out workers who have trouble finding jobs elsewhere.

Westminster headmaster Peter Baur decided to open the store in Memphis nearly 10 years ago after seeing the success his brother Paul had opening a similar store in Philadelphia. But it wasn't until this past spring that Baur's dream became reality.

Even though rap artist Macklemore's Billboard-topping "Thrift Shop" song has made bargain-hunting more popular than ever, Baur struggled with misperceptions about thrift shops when seeking out a home for his store.

Baur approached various property owners in East Memphis, but he was turned down because of what the word "thrift" implies. After several years of rejection, Blues City Thrift approached commercial realtor Walter Wills and found a home in Kirby Gate East.

Tom Frazier, the director of Blues City Thrift, said the philanthropic thrift store is always in top shape.

"When you think of thrift stores, you think dirty, junky, and crowded," Frazier said. "We're very clean. We police the floor by picking everything up and making sure everything is where it should be. Our donated clothes go through intense inspection so everything is in quality shape."

Frazier has even had his own donated clothes rejected because of too much wear and tear.

The board of Blues City Thrift plans to eventually open stores in other locations, such as Cooper-Young and Binghampton, and aims to add more charities as the business expands.

Blues City Thrift is located at 6685 Quince Rd. The phone number is 901-552-5197. It's open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and it's closed on Sundays.

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