Staff Photo: John Bohn Maria Madonia, right, a volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul's Lilburn Thrift Store, checks out customers as the thrift store celebrates its 30th anniversary. The view is from a framed mirror that is for sale.
LILBURN -- In 1982, a small group of volunteers from St. John Neumann Catholic Church had the idea that the people in the community needed a place to purchase clothing and household items at a low cost, the "The Second Time Around Store" was born.
Thirty years later, it now has St. Vincent de Paul in the front of its name, but it is still here to support those in need.
"I think the store is important ... because we have been here so long and we're on a lot of (donation) lists," manager Liz McWhirt said. "I probably field 10 calls a day about assistance. I think the fact that in the current economy -- the need is greater than ever -- that the store offers a great resource for people, who get behind on their rent or utilities."
The store sells everything from clothing to toys, home goods to movies and appliances to jewelry. Many people depend on the spot for everyday needs.
"They really serve a wonderful purpose because it's badly needed now," said Francis Boddy of Lilburn, who has been shopping here since 1984. "My grandkids are used to Nanny going to the thrift store. They come with me to get all kinds of treats. I don't know how people with children can afford to shop anywhere else. They're crazy if they don't shop here."
Besides the low prices, shoppers appreciate the friendly volunteers who work on a regular basis.
"There are good buys and friendly people," said Martha Brown of Norcross, a 10-year shopper. "It's just a nice place to come. Once you start coming, they get to know you. It's like shopping somewhere where you own the store."
Dolly Danner has been volunteering every Tuesday for "20-something years" faithfully and takes her time spent in the building seriously.
"I've enjoyed every minute of it," she said. "We have great people working here and doing our job. I do believe it's been here (for 30 years) because of us ladies. Women come in and say it's like therapy to hear us laughing, talking, and I think we treat everyone with respect. We're here to help and they know it. We do our best that we can for them."
And since the Second Time has been a staple at the intersection of Lawrenceville Highway and Pine Street for three decades, it has seen a lot of growth. The store has a limited amount of room and uses every inch of storage. It even has a portable storage unit situated outside, which it rents monthly.
"We store up," McWhirt said with a laugh.
But the store can't relocate because of expenses and customer loyalty. Many of the shoppers walk to the Lilburn location.
"I will give a point to the person we rent from," McWhirt said. "She has kept the rent the same for the whole 30 years. That's part of the reason we stay because the rent is very reasonable. It's kind of nice to stay here and stay crowded."
All proceeds from the thrift store are delivered to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and distributed to local families in need of assistance in the Lilburn and Lawrenceville area.