Thrift Shop still seeking cash |

Thrift Shop still seeking cash

Joel Stonington
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” An Aspen treasure frequented by young workers and millionaires alike, The Thrift Shop of Aspen’s all-volunteer work force is dedicated to ensure its proceeds ” $ 250,000 a year ” benefit local organiza­tions.

Now, for the first time in its more than 50-year history, The Thrift Shop is asking for money. It’s an odd place for an organization that gives so much money away to be in, but the shop is nearly halfway to the $1.75 million goal.

The Thrift Shop owns its space on city-owned land, leasing the site from the city for $1 a year. When the fire station was redone, planners offered to take The Thrift Shop through the process as well.

“We would never had the idea to expand on our own because we’re just a humble lit­tle organization,” said Sue Kolbe, president of The Aspen Thrift Shop. “What we found is that if we have extra floor space, we will probably be able to increase our giving. We will have more to offer people.”

The renovation is expected to more than double the floor space of the shop, though Kolbe said new regulations mean space for showing items will increase only by about 1,000 square feet.

As it is, the shop is a little less than 2,000 square feet and is jammed with clothes, hats, plates, skis and other goods.

“We are Aspen’s oldest recycling cen­ter,” Kolbe said, mentioning that many of the finest goods directly benefit area organizations, such as a telescope that recently went to Mountain Rescue Aspen.

Perhaps the biggest and least- known side of The Thrift Shop is the grants that go out each month as the money comes in. “We meet once a month and give away all of our money,” Kolbe said. “We make it really easy. The first Monday of every month, we give it all away.”

The money goes out in grants that gen­erally range from about $500 to $5,000, with a few larger sums. The largest grant for the each of the past few years has been $16,000 to the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. There is also $38,000 in scholarships to local students each year.

“Boy, oh boy are we proud of that,” Kolbe said. “We have a real busy time fig­uring out who to give to.”

Beyond the larger grants, it seems few valley nonprofits remain untouched by the grants. Money goes to area schools, heath foundations, environmental groups, camps and other organizations.

“Pretty soon, if you’re in Aspen, we’ve helped out something you value,” Kolbe said. “Once we’re built, we make our own money, but we’d love to have the commu­nities attention and support.”

Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is