Shannon Williams of Eugene, Oregon, a thrifter with a practiced eye, alerted us to one of her favorite shops — a place that immediately earned a place in our pantheon of great thrifting destinations. It is S.A.R.A.’s Treasures in Eugene, which stands for Shelter Animal Resource Alliance, the nonprofit that operates the store. It has the usual books, clothing, housewares and knickknacks found in most secondhand shops, but it also has rescued cats living in the store, ready for adoption. As its website states, “It’s the perfect place for prospective adopters to meet and spend time with kitties who are ready for their forever homes.”
Cats in a thrift store! What could be better?
The nonprofit rescues cats from other rescue organizations and shelters where they might be euthanized and then spays and neuters, vaccinates, microchips and socializes them until they can be adopted. Since 2001, the organization notes that it has rescued 900 cats. We went on the website and were immediately smitten by Gonzo, Gala, Zoidberg and Steven, whose hopeful cat faces peered out at us.
Store manager Melinda McCormick told us that the organization used to rescue both cats and dogs, but now focuses on cats alone, and particularly on senior cats and those with special needs. “We take the ones that aren’t easy to place,” she said. Currently, there are 13 cats living in the 3,300-square-foot store, including a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old feline.
Thank you, Shannon Williams, for telling us about S.A.R.A.’s Treasures. We feel a road trip to Eugene coming on! (S.A.R.A.’s Treasures, 871 River Rd., Eugene, OR 97404. 541/607-8892. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. http://www.sarasavesanimals.org/)
Williams started thrifting when her two children were younger and home schooled. Many families in their home school group thrifted, and Williams’ children took to the treasure hunt aspect of their trips. “We’d spend maybe $10 and everybody would come home with something new to them,” she said.
Below left, a thrift store find that one of Williams’ friends embellished with buttons, and two of Williams’ favorite thrifted pieces of outerwear.
At thrift stores, Williams gravitates to high-quality items that have a long life left in them. She fondly remembers the orange leather handbag she found at a Goodwill in Medford, OR, that she used for years. She is currently wearing a pair of Dansko waterproof ankle boots that were barely worn and priced at $35 – fairly high for a thrift shop, but new Dansko boots cost $150. She’s been wearing them for nearly a decade, which has brought the price per wearing down to pennies.
Williams hits thrift stores every few weeks, and has amassed several noteworthy collections during these forays: bookshelves full of books on Christmas traditions, decorative spoons, scrapbooks that she uses for her own scrapbooking hobby and vintage teapots and dishes. Last fall, she happened on a whole set of Johnson Brothers Olde English Countryside dishes for $52 – but the booth in the antique mall was having a half-off sale, so she got the set for $26. The teapot alone sells for $189 on a replacement dish website, she discovered.
“They were beautiful at Thanksgiving,” she enthused.
Williams said the Eugene area is an excellent place to thrift because there is a strong recycling vibe. She said she knows of one local woman who thrifts even when on vacation abroad. At the end of her trip, she’ll clean the clothes she brought from home and donate them, clearing room in her suitcase for her European thrifted finds.
“There are a lot of people who don’t want to be buying new things,” Williams said.
Below: Super thrifter Shannon Williams. The family’s dogs are big fans of an overstuffed chair she thrifted.