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Walk into the Vintage Values store in Leonardtown with a few dollars and see what you can find.

On a recent Monday, an Evan Picone dress was on sale for $10. Four dollars would buy Levi jeans. A Talbots suit was $15. A London Fog coat was $9. A men’s wool blazer was $5. A Freddie Prinze comedy album was $1. A paperback of David McCullough’s “John Adams,” a copy that looked like it had never been read, was 35 cents.

Yes, shoppers. You may have to spend some time looking, but there are deals for the having.

There was china, exercise equipment, jewelry, furniture, shoes, linens, toys, decorative items, frames, televisions and other electronic equipment, VHS tapes and DVDs, luggage, lamps and watches.

“We get a lot of nice donations,” said Ron Stone, manager of all three Vintage Values stores (two in St. Mary’s and one in Calvert County). “It’s unbelievable what we get ... We get a ton of stuff where the tags are still on it.”

Barbara Ridgell of Valley Lee was one of the steady stream of customers stepping into the store on teh Monday in mid-January. With a shopping basket in hand, she was taking a closer look at some of the purses displayed on a wall.

“I buy my pants and shirts” at Vintage Values, Ridgell said, and “just little odds and ends.”

Ridgell was looking for a bargain, as do most shoppers at Vintage Values, according to Stone. But there are altruistic reasons to come by Vintage Values and other thrift stores in the county that are set up specifically to benefit a nonprofit.

Sales at the Vintage Values stores benefit The Center for Life Enrichment in Hollywood. A large sign posted above the purse display advertises this connection and what it means: “Our mission is to provide programs and support services that will increase the vocational and personal potential of individuals with disabilities.”

Patuxent Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Lexington Park benefits Patuxent Habitat for Humanity, which organizes volunteers in the community to provide decent, affordable housing in both Calvert and St. Mary’s counties. Hooks and Hangers in Charlotte Hall benefits the Spring Dell Center, which connects people with disabilities to the community and employment, similar to The Center for Life Enrichment. And a couple of churches operate thrift shops too.

While these shops benefit area nonprofits, altruism probably isn’t the big draw for customers, Stone said. “The majority of them come in to find a bargain.”

And these stores are popular. Last year, Vintage Values stores handled 112,500 transactions and generated approximately $1,305,000 in sales. Stone laughs, though, and notes that a lot of that goes to pay for rent, utilities and wages. Those wages and the jobs attached to them are the main idea, the way Stone sees it.

“It’s a way to provide employment,” he said.

Shirley Belk is part of the direct care staff at the Leonardtown Vintage Values. She supervises clients of The Center for Life Enrichment as they sort the clothes and other donations and prepare items for recycling, a job that requires patience and creativity. “I love it,” Belk said. “I get to see them progress and learn new things in the community. … This gives them a sense of independence. They get a paycheck.

“It just brightens my day when they’ve achieved hanging a garment right on the hanger or tying a bag right,” she said.

Stone estimated that Vintage Values provides jobs for 35 to 40 people. In addition to the employees who supervise the workers, employees work at sorting the numerous and varied donations brought to the centers. Those donations that aren’t deemed saleable are sold by the pound to recycling centers. “Even if it’s an old beat-up pocketbook, we can recycle,” Stone said. “We won’t waste a thing.”

Saleable items are priced and set out on display.

Those items that don’t sell within a month at least are moved out of the store and new items brought in. There is always new merchandise for shoppers to check out.

Stephanie Ford of Mechanicsville works as a clerk at the Leonardtown Vintage Values. She noted that while clothing is popular, furniture at the store also sells quickly, especially dressers. “As soon as they come in, they leave,” she said.

“Everybody is on a budget, trying to save money,” Ford said.

scraton@somdnews.com

Go shopping!

Vintage Values, which benefits The Center for Life Enrichment, has three locations, two of which are in St. Mary’s County — 21779 Tulagi Place in Lexington Park and 25995 Point Lookout Road, Unit 102, in Leonardtown. The stores sell clothes, household items, shoes, jewelry, books, exercise equipment, furniture and more. Both stores are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vintage Values accepts credit cards but has a $10 minimum for that form of payment. Call the Lexington Park store at 301-737-4884 and the Leonardtown store at 301-475-3655.



Patuxent Habitat for Humanity ReStore is located at 21768 S. Coral Drive in Lexington Park. The store sells furniture, appliances, household items and building materials. The store is open for customers and to take donations Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pick-up is available. Call 301-737-6273.



Hooks and Hangers Quality Resale Stores, which benefit the Spring Dell Center, has three locations, one of which is in St. Mary’s County, at 29940 Three Notch Road in Charlotte Hall. The store sells household goods, clothes, shoes, books, furniture that is in good repair and more. Store hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations are accepted during business hours up until a half hour before closing time. Call 301-274-3711.



All Saints Episcopal Church thrift shop in Oakley is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., featuring clothing, housewares, books, jewelry, collectibles and other items, including ladies’ clothing and linens. The shop is located in the church hall on Oakley Road, about two miles from the church.



St. Andrew’s Thrift Store is located at 44078 St. Andrew’s Church Road in California. It features clothing, seasonal items, jewelry, household items and more. The store is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 240-925-7445.