Defiance Thrift turns 20, surpasses $1M donated | PostIndependent.com

Defiance Thrift turns 20, surpasses $1M donated

Defiance store manager Rhonda Bell and employee Wendy Morse proudly hold a new store sign displaying the achievement of $1M donated to local nonprofits.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

A community staple is set to turn 20 years old on Friday.

Defiance Thrift Store opened in hopes of giving the Roaring Fork Valley a clearinghouse for donated goods, providing places such as Family Visitor Program and LIFT-UP with a store to take some of the overflowing goods off of their hands.

In 1996, Sandy Swanson, the director of Family Visitor Program, had become overwhelmed with donations at her organization — clothing, home goods, toys and more — partly because the community lacked a sufficient outlet where used items could be given to charity. By December of ‘96, Swanson teamed up with then-director of LIFT-UP Jackie Allen and Advocate Safehouse Project Executive Director Julie Olson to form the vision of what would soon become Defiance Thrift Store.

With the idea in the early stages, board members of the various organizations talked to Leadership Glenwood, which then did a feasibility study for the store. From there, a grant from the Aspen Community Foundation and the support of Alpine Bank founder Bob Young, the store was able to open 20 years ago.

Since then, Defiance has become a pillar in the community and has recently surpassed $1 million in donated goods — from clothing to fine art — to benefit operations including LIFT-UP and Family Visitor Program.

“That amount of money is huge, because that’s all about our community support,” Swanson said. “For me, that’s all about providing services to families in the community. We get all kinds of things from Defiance that really helps us do things for people in the community, and that’s so important to us. We wanted to keep all of this local, and we’ve been able to do that throughout the years.

“In addition to raising funds for charity, Defiance solves a few problems locally: the first of which is recycling usable goods within the community — we help keep stuff out of the landfill,” Swanson added. “Second, we help redistribute quality goods to people who are unable to pay full price in a regular store. And last, we utilize a voucher program to help those in certain situations such as domestic abuse or a fire, to obtain needed items like free clothing or household supplies.”

With thrift stores, it can often be a tough business to stay afloat for as long as Defiance has, but being here in the valley has played a huge part in the staying open.

“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the community donating as much resellable items on a day-to-day basis,” store manager Rhonda Bell said. “We get some pretty interesting goods donated to us, from a zebra head to game-worn Cincinnati Reds jerseys from the Johnny Bench era, to DVDs and household goods. Without those donations from people, there’s no way we’d be able to do what we do.”

Defiance donates a minimum of $3,000 per month to LIFT-UP and Family Visitor Program, putting the donations per year at a minimum of $36,000. However, there have been times throughout the years where Defiance has blown well past those numbers in terms of donations.

The business has been at its current address of 2412 S. Glen Ave. since 2011, when the property was purchased by the store. Voted the Locals’ Choice Best Thrift Shop in back-to-back years the last two years, as well as several times prior, Defiance is known by many as the go-to for quality goods, oddities and an enjoyable, clean shopping experience her in the Roaring Fork Valley.

In celebration of the 20 years in business, Defiance will have free food available to shoppers, while also offering 20 percent off all goods in the store.


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