Today, Aug. 17, is National Thrift Shop Day, and we honor it by profiling a store in California that is near and dear to the ThriftStyle authors.
The honest truth is that our upcoming book, ThriftStyle: The Ultimate Bargain Shopper’s Guide to Smart Fashion, could not have been written without our go-to shop, Desert Best Friend’s Closet in Palm Desert, CA. Allison is lucky to live near many excellent thrift and consignment stores in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, but at the top of the class is this retail store and nonprofit that benefits low-income residents trying to find jobs. The nonprofit, co-founded and presided over by the resourceful and energetic Connie Golds, provides wardrobe services, résumé help, employment search workshops and interview coaching to move clients into jobs. “Changing lives, one outfit at a time” is the organization’s motto.
High-end clothing is donated by area residents. “Someone’s future is hanging in your closet,” the shop’s website reminds donors. Volunteer wardrobe stylists work with clients one-on-one to find outfits that help develop their own professional image. Human resources professionals from across the Valley help clients with skills identification, job search strategies and mock interviews.
Wardrobe consultations often take an hour and a half, and clients sometimes leave with as many as three outfits. “We try and make clients comfortable in trying something different, and will give them honest feedback on how something looks,” said Golds. “Sometimes clients are seeing themselves in professional business attire or a suit for the first time,” she said. “It boosts their self-esteem and helps them find employment success.”
The retail shop supports the organization’s philanthropic efforts. It is small but mighty, headed by operations manager CeCe Barlow, shown below, who is helped by two dozen volunteers. The inventory is clean, well-displayed and organized by size.
The incredible bonus is that everything in the store is priced at $5. If you buy five items (and we always do), the charge is $20. For your $4 outlay, you can walk out with beautiful designer and well-known more moderate brands, all in mint condition. As we were producing photographs for the book, Allison made many a frantic trip to Desert Best Friend’s Closet, and never failed to score an armful of useful items. For each photo in our book, we identified the store where we found it, and Desert Best Friend’s Closet easily is the most-repeated name.
The nonprofit began in 2008 when Golds – a former teacher at the elementary, secondary and college levels — looked at programs that provided prom dresses to underprivileged teens, “and I wondered why we aren’t doing something more than once a year.” She ran Desert Best Friend’s Closet from her home for the first two years, moved to a location that offered free space and in 2014 moved to her current location in a commercial strip along Highway 111, which is accessible by bus.
Golds’ nonprofit is a member of the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits, a national group of similar organizations that help others find jobs. Noting the correlation between poverty and obesity and seeing the struggle that some women have in finding plus-size professional clothing, the alliance offers its members new suits up to size 34, made to their specifications. Those suits, and clothing and shoes for men and women of all sizes, represent caring and hope for those in need.
Desert Best Friend’s Closet is the ultimate example of letting us all look good while doing good.
Desert Best Friend’s Closet, 74-040 Highway 111, Suite F, Palm Desert, CA 92260. 760/776-9975. The boutique’s summer hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with client visits by appointment.