Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop celebrates 30 years of giving back to Ann Arbor Public Schools

The Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop turns 30 years old this month, and to commemorate the anniversary, an Open House and 30% off Sale will be held on Sunday, Nov. 12th at the main store and its adjoining Showcase located at 2280 S. Industrial Hwy. There will be treats from 11 am to 3 pm and an opportunity to win gift certificates. 

General Manager Paulette Brown says she can hardly believe it has been three decades since the store’s first weekend sale in 1993, noting: “We’re just really proud that between our staff, our volunteers, and the donated items we’re a thriving business that’s able to support its mission.”

Brown says the key to the store’s success has always been the generous spirit of Ann Arbor residents. “We get incredible donations because people in Ann Arbor and the surrounding areas really want to support our schools,” she says. “I think that community focus is what’s kept us going strong for 30 years.  Ann Arbor is a very giving place. We’re lucky to be in a fairly affluent town, with university students that come and go on a regular basis. Donations of clean, gently used, and collectible items become salable merchandise, raising the money that goes back into Ann Arbor Public Schools Parent Teacher Organizations.”

Everything that crosses the threshold gets the personal touch. The crew of staff and volunteers handle and evaluate every donated item, sorting, curating, and eliminating the unsellable so that all stock on the shelves are good products at a good price, she says. Unsellable items are recycled to the extent possible.

Paulette Brown

Brown says she’s proud of the Thrift Shops’ longevity in serving not only the AAPS PTOs, but as an employer and as a provider of quality merchandise at economical pricing to the community. The A2PTO has been in its current location at 2280 S. Industrial Highway with 23,000 sq. ft of space since 2006 after a fire destroyed a previous location on South State Road.

“We have a wonderful location—and we’re on AATA bus routes #6 and #24,” she notes.

With so many places to donate, why the PTO Thrift Shop?

“I think people donate to us and to others with missions they feel strongly about. We believe every nonprofit resale location serves a mission to do good” Brown says. 

Assistant Manager Zach Nichols says Thursdays have been particularly busy since the shop went from being open 7 days a week pre-Covid, to the 4-day Thursday through Sunday shopping schedule. 

Shoppers stand in line to be first inside at the 10 a.m. opening to have the first crack at the newly stocked and displayed merchandise, including 50-cent clothing with tags bearing the sale color of the week.

“The store’s as successful as ever,” he says, “But it just means there’s a little bit more of a traffic jam on Thursday mornings.”

“People are so generous!” says Nichols. “In some sense, it can be a lot to deal with. But we really appreciate it.”

On Sunday, most merchandise will be 30 percent off all day. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Thrift Shop Board will meet, greet and offer treats and prizes to customers.

Through June of 2023, the shop’s payouts to AAPS PTOs and other school initiatives totals $3,316,019.00—all from donated items. That figure includes dollars that funded Middle School after school bussing, therapy dogs for Abbot and for Pittsfield Elementary and a $30,000 match for the Title 1 schools.

“From an excellent 2023, AAPS PTOs shared in year-end bonus payouts of $120,000,” says Brown.

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