Diane Knapp, of Grosse Pointe Woods, has volunteered for more than 30 years in the Little Thrift Shop at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Diane Knapp, of Grosse Pointe Woods, has volunteered for more than 30 years in the Little Thrift Shop at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Thrift store celebrates 60 years of fashions, helping others and friendship

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 20, 2018

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The history of the Little Thrift Shop at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church began 60 years ago when a group of parish members utilized space inside the organ chamber to sell gently used clothing and other items to help raise money for the church.

Although the organ chamber had a large window opening into the church, it wasn’t the ideal spot for a resale store. The area had to be closed down for any unscheduled church services, and if the phone rang inside the store, it could be heard alongside the organ music during Sunday morning service.

Another issue was the lack of space, but the early organizers of the resale store — which officially opened March 14, 1958 — never gave up on the idea of running a resale shop that would consistently benefit others.

It was obvious more space was needed, and an addition to the church at that time included plans for a sales shop, small office and room for receiving goods during the week. On Jan. 18, 1961, a new Little Thrift Shop opened on the church grounds, and over the years it has grown in volunteers, patrons and items.

Since the late 1950s, the Little Thrift Shop, located at 20475 Sunningdale Park in Grosse Pointe Woods, has become a neighborhood staple and the main source of outreach funding for the church. The consignment/resale shop, which benefits St. Michael’s ministry for those in need, will celebrate its 60-year anniversary this March. Proceeds from store sales also contribute to a number of outside charities.

Shop volunteers will mark the store’s 60-year milestone during the first three Sundays of worship. On March 4, a history of the church will be shared; on March 11, parishioners will learn of the various charities the thrift store assists financially; and on March 18, the store’s volunteers will be recognized in church. Service times are 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend.

Currently, there are 45 volunteers — including store co-managers Genny Davenport and Rosemary Berger — who keep the consignment shop running smoothly. Nobody gets paid; everyone volunteers their time. Davenport, of Harper Woods, has been involved for 18 years.

“I like the companionship and the feeling of helping people,” she said. “It gives you something to do, and you feel you are accomplishing something. You feel really good.”

The resale/consignment shop collects merchandise from consigners who receive 60 percent of the selling price, with 40 percent benefitting the shop. There are plenty of items from which to choose, including women’s, men’s and children’s clothing; household items; knickknacks; picture frames; purses; dishes; jewelry; holiday items; tools; coats; linens; bedding; and more. Everything is neatly organized by item. Because of space constraints, the store does not accept large furniture.

The consignment/resale store features a designer rack of items and a color ticket sale two weeks each month. Every 18 months, the volunteers hold a fashion show from the donated items in the store. The next one is scheduled for November.

The items that don’t sell within 60 days are returned to the donor. Leftover merchandise is either placed in the clearance room or donated to charitable organizations. Davenport said customers shop from all over, including the Grosse Pointes, Detroit, Rochester Hills, St. Clair Shores, Warren, Sterling Heights and Eastpointe.

Through the years, some interesting and profitable items have been donated, including an 18-karat gold necklace that brought in $200, and a photograph depicting the Titanic’s maiden voyage that nobody thought would sell, but did.

“We’re always struck by something we have never seen before,” volunteer Deborah Cooper, of Grosse Pointe Woods, said. “We have a lot of faithful customers. We feel as if we know them all.”

On a recent Friday afternoon, sisters Anne Grayr, of Grosse Pointe Woods, and Sarah Ludlow, of Grosse Pointe Shores, oversaw the checkout counter while volunteers Pat Grant, of St. Clair Shores, and Mary Scrace organized donated items. Scrace, wife of longtime former Grosse Pointe City Mayor Dale Scrace, has volunteered her time for 42 years, making plenty of friends along the way.

“I truly love this place. The volunteers are why I came back,” Scrace said.

A fond memory was when a customer found a dress on the rack and wanted to know if it came in her size.

“It was like we were a regular store,” Scrace said.

The resale shop is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Donations are welcome from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays in the church’s Yeoman Hall. The hall also is used every November and December for the Christmas Boutique.

For more information on the Little Thrift Shop at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, visit www.stmichaelsgpw.org, stop by in person or call (313) 884-7840.


The Little Thrift Shop at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Grosse Pointe Woods contributes to the church as well as the following charities: Alternatives For Girls, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, Cass Community Social Services, Crossroads of Michigan, Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS), Episcopal Relief and Development, Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, Habitat for Humanity, Mariners Inn, Services for Older Citizens (SOC), Turning Point and Warm Hearts Foundation.