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Duluth thrift store helps community

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Paulette Tramble shops with her daughter, Rachel, 7, at the Atlanta Mission Thrift Store of Duluth last week. Tramble said she shops at the store regularly because "it fits my budget."

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Paulette Tramble shops with her daughter, Rachel, 7, at the Atlanta Mission Thrift Store of Duluth last week. Tramble said she shops at the store regularly because "it fits my budget."

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Sylvia Gomez, of Duluth, shops at the Atlanta Mission Thrift Store of Duluth last week for holiday gifts.

DULUTH -- Ossiereen Jones of Lawrenceville shops at the Atlanta Mission Thrift Store of Duluth at least twice a week -- once when she leaves the Unemployment Office and another time with her daughter. She depends on the store for clothes, gifts and other odds and ends, especially during the holiday season.

"It's the only place (I can shop) unfortunately," she said. "My daughter only asked for one thing this year: a pearl necklace and earring set. I will look for it there. If anyone gets anything (as a present), I get it there."

She isn't the only savvy shopper. There is a large group of regular customers who depend on the low prices to create the Christmas spirit on a tight budget.

"The customer base is very loyal in a close-knit environment," Jennifer Scholle of Atlanta Mission said. "What's cool is how many customers were coming in the beginning of the Christmas season looking for dishes or decorations because they knew that the store was going to help provide those things."

Norma Sanchez of Duluth is also a devoted customer. She is married with three children and doesn't speak English. Her husband is a painter and doesn't make a large salary, so she relies on the thrift store for clothes, things for the house and toys for the kids.

"Yeah, it's good when I can get presents here," she said, in Spanish, about her limited budget. "I buy very little (from Walmart) because its too expensive."

The reason that the Atlanta Mission keeps prices down is to help the community around them. Most of the money that comes through the store is recycled back into the nonprofit's programs to help homeless men and women rehabilitate themselves to get back on their feet.

"The thing about the thrift stores is we try to keep the prices affordable -- we are a ministry. We're not a for-profit organization," Scholle said. "Although the profits go to funding programs, we're serving the community as well because we have very reasonable prices."

And the community is happy to have them in Duluth.

"I discovered them when I was leaving the Unemployment Office in April, which can be horrible," Jones said. "I spotted it in a shopping center, so I took a look inside, then I fell in love with the manager and staff. I love and hate thrift stores. They're usually unclean, smelly, unfriendly ... but this one isn't. I get excited to go."

Jones had a job interview on Monday, but even if she gets the full-time position, she will continue to purchase her clothes at the Atlanta Mission Thrift Store.

"I think the economy is getting us back into the things we over look. Not everything has to be brand new to be a treasure," she said. "Now that I know that (shopping here) a good decision and wise decision, I will continue to shop here. It meet mine and my daughter's needs."

"Well, except for our shoes. I'm 6-feet tall," Jones said with a laugh.

For more information about Atlanta Mission and its thrift stores, visit www.atlantamission.org.