Mountain Mayhem: The Beloved Thrift Shop |

Mountain Mayhem: The Beloved Thrift Shop

01: The Thrift Shop of Aspen donated an astounding $583,000 to the community in 2015. Ellen Walbert photo.

Long before Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ catchy track was released in 2012, the “Thrift Shop” was already a household name in this valley, thanks to the Aspen organization made up of dedicated volunteers.

Founded in 1949, The Thrift Shop of Aspen was created to support the former hospital, which was in a Victorian home at the base of Red Mountain. The attic was remodeled to provide housing for two to three nurses at the time. When the hospital hired several more, the Thrift Shop helped pay their salaries. Next, the Thrift Shop helped the Red Brick School, which now houses the Red Brick Center for the Arts. Initially, they were instrumental in starting the first kindergarten and the first hot lunch program for the school. For many years, they supported only the hospital and the school, but eventually began to support the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club before expanding their reach valley-wide.

Today, The Thrift Shop of Aspen is run by 140 women, each offering their time and services in a variety of roles from the scholarship committee to overseeing the annual art sale, to a cookbook committee, window decorations, working the register, recycling and more. Its mission is to sell donated goods at affordable prices, to engage in community building activities, to make grants to other non-profit organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley and to provide scholarships to Roaring Fork Valley area high school graduates.

In December, they marked a successful year with a holiday lunch at The Aspen Meadows, celebrating the astounding achievement in giving $583,000 back to the community for the year. “The best part about The Thrift Shop is giving money away,” said Katherine Sand as she and fellow volunteers unraveled the paper roll revealing the full number.

With so many donations and items to sort, price, sell and repeat, The Thrift Shop ladies are always looking to grow their volunteer corps. To join The Thrift Shop, applications are available online.

“I’ve made my best friends volunteering here,” said board member Patti Stranhan.

“You work with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet,” added Lynda MacCarthy, treasurer for more than 20 years.

To learn more, visit The Thrift Shop online at