their kids' school trips didn't either. The shop saw its daily volunteer count drop from fifteen people to two. Yet it ended that year with $723,000 in income, a $140,000 increase over the year before, and sent $88,000 to the district's schools.
Forced to go pro, the shop thrived. Last year it sold almost $1 million worth of donated clothing, furniture, craft supplies and linen. Even after paying its now almost entirely professional staff, it was able to give $297,000 to the schools. "They are consistently one of our most generous outside funders," says schools spokesperson Liz Margolis.
The shop was launched twenty years ago at Tappan Middle School. "Ann Holz spearheaded fund-raising there, and one year she said at a meeting, 'I am so tired of selling candy and wrapping paper I could scream!'" board chair Janet Fritsch recalls. "Ann had visited her sister in Chapel Hill and found out about the thrift shop there. She brought the information back to Ann Arbor, and a group of us, maybe eight total, put together the first sale." It earned $5,000.
The shop passed through a series of small buildings, Fritsch says, until settling in the mid-1990s "in the building that the Salvation Army is in now, an old building that was so cold in the winter. But we stayed there until the landlord jacked up the rent. Then we went to South State Street."