Thrift shop furnishes homes for people exiting homelessness

Revitalized, a new Auburn-based thrift shop, just opened its doors in the Outlet Collection mall with a mission to help folks who are exiting homelessness.

Revitalized is owned by REVIVE, a local nonprofit church that does several forms of community service, including its “Full House” program, according to the REVIVE website. Full House works with the City of Auburn and furnishes houses and apartments for people and families who are exiting homelessness.

The money made by the Revitalized thrift shop funds REVIVE’s Full House program.

“The proceeds from the store actually go to help furnish first-time homes for families in Auburn exiting homelessness,” owner Mars Flannery said.

About three years ago Flannery and other members of REVIVE decided they wanted to help address the homelessness crisis in Auburn and began brainstorming ideas on how they could make that happen, Flannery said.

Then about two years ago, they furnished their first home for a family exiting homelessness, since then they’ve been able to furnish 35 homes, Flannery said.

One of the people REVIVE has helped is Gabriella Stott, a transgender woman, who was homeless after she moved to Auburn from Utah around two years ago. Stott said REVIVE welcomed her with open arms and helped her land a job and move into an apartment.

“I moved up from Utah 2 years ago with only a few boxes of stuff and spent time homeless at a hotel and pastor Jessica helped me with it,” Stott said “She helped me locate good work locations to put an application in and I landed a job working in manufacturing soon after I got an apartment.”

REVIVE realized in order to help more people like Stott, they would need to figure out a way to raise money to pay for the furniture and other associated costs. They decided on a thrift store, so that way the community could get involved.

“We all know there’s a homelessness crisis, but no one knows how to help or how to get involved, but everyone loves thrifting,” Flannery said. “So by donating clothes, by shopping, people can actually help furnish a home.”

All of the families that Full House has helped furnish homes for are still in those homes, Flannery said. The work they’re doing has a lasting impact on the families they help. Stott said she still uses the furniture they gave her when she first moved into her apartment.

A lot of the furniture Full House uses is donated by other nonprofit organizations or individual community members in Auburn, Flannery said. However, some items such as coffee makers, towels and sheets are bought new.

Stott said beyond the furniture REVIVE provided, they supported through her transition and helped her get on her feet, which is why Stott works with REVIVE and Full House to help others in situations similar to hers.

“Really it’s the support I was given along the way that really made a difference,” Stott said. “Anyone can drop a couch off and say enjoy, but they gave me love where I felt none, support where there was adversity, and recognition of my abilities.”

Full House stores all the furniture in a warehouse and when the city notifies them about a family moving into a house, they work to furnish it based on the family or individual’s preferences, Flannery said.

“We hear about things they like and what they want in their home, there was one woman who really wanted a botanical theme so we went through our warehouse and picked out botanical themed things,” Flannery said.

In addition to their clothing thrift shop, Revitalized is opening a “Home Edition” store in Outlet Collections mall on Oct. 8. Revitalized Home Edition will sell used home goods like furniture and decor, Flannery said. All of the proceeds from this store will also go to furnishing homes for people exiting homelessness.

In addition to helping people who are exiting homelessness, donating and shopping at Revitalized is a great way to shop sustainably, Flannery said.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in 2018, over 9 billion tons of clothing and footwear ended up in landfills in America alone.

“This is a great way for people to get rid of things in their closet that they’re not using but also find quality things too,” Flannery said. “What I love about our store is it isn’t just junky clothing, it’s the quality brands you’re already searching for.”

If you have clothes to get rid of, or need to find a new jacket for fall and you want to help Auburn’s homeless community, you can visit Revitalized in the Outlet Collection mall in between Hot Topic and the Gap.