By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN It doesn’t have a fancy storefront or focus on the latest trends, but the Worn-a-Bit Shop in Winsted is a hidden gem for those who’ve fallen on hard times.
“We were devastated by the economy and haven’t been able to bounce back yet,” one shopper said recently. “This is the best place to find a quantity of clothes.”
One paper bag of clothing is $5, the second bag is $4, and the third is $3. Items can also be purchased separately.
“When you’re cleaning out your closet, keep us in mind,” volunteer Rosie Quast said, explaining that donations can be dropped off during open hours (Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.)
The thrift store is located on the side of The Pantry Café in Winsted (121 2nd St. S). It began decades ago in the basement of Holy Trinity’s old convent, but moved to its current spot when Holy Trinity’s elementary school was later built in that location.
“It’s a small space, but there’s a lot of stuff in it. It’s well-organized,” a shopper commented.
Meet the volunteers
With 33 years of experience, Karen Schoen is the Worn-a-Bit’s longest-serving volunteer.
“Somebody at the church asked if my friend [Trudy Remer] and I would be willing to help,” Schoen recalled.
When Remer retired due to health reasons, Quast stepped in to take her place.
“I’m the baby of the group I’ve only been here three years,” Quast said.
Another regular volunteer, Kathy Schoenfelder, joined the effort in 1986.
At that time, Schoenfelder had just finished a year of Spanish classes, and was looking for a way to practice her language skills. Since then, she’s enjoyed helping Spanish-speaking customers feel welcome at the store.
When the volunteers aren’t assisting customers, they keep busy folding, sorting, hanging, and straightening clothing. They also cut un-wearable material into rags, which are for sale at the store.
“We each have our departments,” Schoenfelder said.
A good deal
The shop features clothing for all ages, in a variety of sizes and styles, as well as small household items, holiday décor, CDs, and books.
“Baby clothes are the best deal, because you can fit a lot of them in one bag,” one customer commented.
Books (which are completely free) are also a good deal.
“We just had a gal come in who said this is where she buys her Christmas gifts every year,” Schoen said.
The Worn-a-Bit is a popular place to shop for “ugly sweaters” for holiday parties, too.
“They are a hot item,” Schoenfelder said.
Worn-a-Bit’s busiest time of year is usually October and November, according to Schoen.
“Any change of seasons,” Schoenfelder added.
Throughout the year, many visitors frequent the store, such as families with small children, people who’ve had house fires, or those on a tight budget due to other unforeseen circumstances.
“We’ve had 30 people in here at a time, counting kids,” Schoenfelder said.
Have clothes to donate?
The proceeds of Worn-a-Bit’s sales benefit Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Winsted.
People who would like to donate clothing, books, or small household items (not electronics or child car seats) are encouraged to stop in the store between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays or Fridays, or make arrangements with one of the volunteers for an alternate drop-off time. Items should not be left outside the store.
Tax receipts for donations are available.