2008-10-30 / Community

Mad Attic Thrift Store celebrates 48 years of service

By Nancy Needham nancy@theacorn.com

JANN HENDRY/Acorn Newspapers ANNIVERSARY—Mad Attic volunteer Mary Ann Seage organizes clothing racks in the Thousand Oaks store. The Mad Attic is celebrating 48 years in the community. JANN HENDRY/Acorn Newspapers ANNIVERSARY—Mad Attic volunteer Mary Ann Seage organizes clothing racks in the Thousand Oaks store. The Mad Attic is celebrating 48 years in the community. Used items donated to the Mad Attic Thrift Store are sold at low prices to raise money to help local charities. Some customers are just looking for a good deal; others are in desperate need of clothes, household goods or other items at low, almost giveaway, prices.

Shoppers are greeted with a smile, often one from Jane Otto, who's been volunteering at the thrift store since it began in 1960. Other longtime volunteers include Dodie Linn, Alfhild Croom, Eudora Church, Jessie Graham and Roberta Wood—all in their 90s.

The Mad Attic, at 226A Skyline Drive, is in what looks like a house turned into a small shopping center, with a salon and The Book Bag, a used bookstore, as neighbors. It used to be located at what was an old machine shop on the corner of Hillcrest and Conejo School Road, volunteer Bernie Honey said.

"The floor was dirt and it smelled like oil, but for 27 years the $75-a-month rent never went up," Honey recalled.

Now on Skyline, the rent goes up every year, she said.

"There are very few thrift stores left in Thousand Oaks because of the age of the volunteers and the rent keeps going up, up and up," Honey said.

The quaint interior is packed with clothes that include baby sleepers, men's suits, winter jackets and even a few elegant ladies' designer evening gowns. The inventory includes whatever is donated.

A man's suit was priced at $10. Sometimes a suit is all that is needed for someone to get a much-needed job, said volunteer Eleanor Davis.

"We had a volunteer donate a lot of clothes. Then a woman who wore that size walked in and bought $1,500 worth of clothes for about $80. She felt like she'd hit the mother lode," customer service volunteer Katie Owens said.

There are also used golf balls, vinyl records and lamps. Coffee cups sell for 10 cents each. Hardcover books go for $1. Vintage items fill the shelves.

The thrift store is an outreach of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, which also feeds the homeless with dinner at the church one day a week. Because of that connection, Honey calls herself a "personal shopper for the homeless."

When someone from the homeless dinner group needs an item such as a sweater or an outfit for a job interview, she or he tells Honey, who tries to find it at the Mad Attic. If she can, she brings it to them the following week.

"Last year at this time we had 25 people at the Saturday dinner; this year we have 37," Honey said.

The need for donations and volunteers at the Mad Attic is also increasing so the rent can be paid and money will still be available for charities, including the local Boys & Girls Club and the local food bank, free clinic, homeless program, youth employment program and YMCA; for scholarships; and for Habitat for Humanity, Many Mansions, Senior Concerns and American Heart Association.

For more information, call (805) 4956441 or (805) 4971990.

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