Out with the New, In with the Old

By Nathalie Walker, Student Intern
Rack of Thrift Shop clothes

The Thrift Shop at Fort Detrick has numerous things for sale, often at discounted prices.

On any given day, you can find a variety of bargains on items forgotten by some but coveted by others at the Thrift Shop at Fort Detrick. For instance, near the back of the modest shop is a complete hand-painted set of bowls, plates, and mugs, along with lightly worn military and civilian clothing. Closer to the front are diverse and engaging antique books; jade, glass, and clay vases; two maple violins; and an assortment of Bud Light beer signs. It’s all kept in a nondescript, straw-colored house on Porter Street near Veterans Gate. Inside, you’ll find a shop filled with fragrances and shelves redolent of history and the past.

Built in the early 1930s, the building was originally the post’s air traffic control center. In its current incarnation, the non-profit Thrift Shop’s mission is “for our profits to go to support the Fort Detrick and Frederick community,” according to Manager Sarah Vaughn.

The shop donates to the Frederick Rescue Mission and the Christian Appalachian Project and also provides scholarships and grants. All employees on base (including NCI staff, contractors, interns, and special volunteers) as well as military families are eligible to apply for a grant or a scholarship. The funds for the scholarship, which go to college students pursuing their bachelor’s degrees, are given directly to the school once the student provides proof of attendance. Grant requests must be approved by the Board of Directors.

“Grants are usually given for emergency situations, and also to support programs that benefit the Fort Detrick community,” Vaughn said. She added that grants are not always cash—sometimes a need may be household goods or clothing.  The Thrift Shop gives out two to three $1,000 scholarships a year, along with need-based grants. Nearly all of the store’s profit goes towards the scholarships and grants.

In addition to item donations, the Thrift Shop also offers consignment. Consignment is when the shop sells an item on behalf of its owner and takes a 25 percent commission. This involves a contract, and prospective sellers must work at Fort Detrick or be a resident at Fort Detrick to be eligible. All items being sold are open to civilians who are off base to buy.

Once an item is consigned, though, it can’t sit on the shelf forever—there is an expiration date. Yellow tagged items are consigned items, and white tagged items are Thrift Shop property. When a consigned item expires and is not picked up by the owner, it becomes Thrift Shop property. It is then discounted by 50 percent and keeps being discounted until sold. When an item is not sold within a certain time frame, the shop donates it to a charity or a family in need.

There is no online store at this time, but shop information and some item photos are posted on its Facebook page.

February (fall/winter sale) and August (spring/summer sale) are prime times to stop by because all white tagged and expired yellow tagged clothing, shoes, and purses are 50 cents per piece (military uniforms not included). Additionally, white tagged non-clothing items are 50 percent off, and expired yellow tagged non-clothing items are 75 percent off—or, as they say at the Thrift Shop, “half off the half-off.” All yellow tagged items that are not expired remain as marked.

One of the most shocking sales at the shop involved a brand new, light purple, Vera Wang bridesmaid dress. The market price was $568, but the dress was sold for 50 cents during the annual sales.

Although there is an abundance of history within the shop, it also provides hope for the future of the Fort Detrick and Frederick communities. So if you want to treat yourself or another or just help the community, the Thrift Shop can be a great place to do so from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, or each first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon.

A variety of books for sale at the Thrift Shop at Fort Detrick.