Atlanta thrift house serves as 'a place of light'

Department stores may come and go, but Atlanta’s Cathedral Thrift House is still standing.

"It started as a mission to serve the community, for people that were not able to go to Neiman Marcus or Davison's or Rich's - those were the old stores before Macy’s," says Rena Sartain, chair of the thrift house board.

First opened as a ministry in 1949 by the Cathedral of St. Phillip in Buckhead, the mission was to serve the community in two ways: selling gently used goods (including clothes, furniture, and houseware items) at affordable prices, and raising money for local nonprofit organizations. 

"The volunteers of the store nominate different charities and then we vote on the one that we would like to support for that year," says Sartain. "And most of our money, I think 80 percent of our money, goes to charity."

Over the years, the store has moved locations a few times (the very first location was an abandoned chicken coop!); the Cathedral Thrift House is currently located at 1893 Piedmont Road Northeast in Atlanta. But its mission hasn’t changed in the more than 70 years of operation; in fact, volunteers say due to the economic impacts of the pandemic, their work is more vital than ever.

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"We have made it more of a boutique, in that my goal and our goal is for anyone to be able to come in here and shop with dignity, not feel that they can't afford it or that they are in a thrift store," says Sartain.

Adds store manager Nellie Holleman, "I always say, the thrift house is a place of light.  And it's where people can come in -- sometimes people come in here, and we're the first people that have spoken to them that day. So, there's a lot of joy in that. And I think that means so much to all of us. And that, too, sets us apart. We're a business but we're also a place that gives hope to other people."

For more information on the Cathedral Thrift House, click here.

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