Library Friends: A thrift store-y

Virginia Cervantez, pictured here in the home and decor section of the Marble Falls Library Thrift Store, has been manager of the operation for the non-profit Friends of the Marble Falls Library for 21 years. As part of the 20th Anniversary of the Marble Falls Public Library building at 101 Main Street, all the volunteers and staff of the store that helped build the modern library and continue its success will be honored with a tea on Thursday, Oct. 5, sponsored by Friends of the Marble Falls Library. See pictures of some of the volunteers hard at work on the Facebook page of The Highlander.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

At 6:30 a.m., when some are just sitting down to breakfast, the Marble Falls Library Thrift Store is buzzing with activity.

Volunteers from Friends of the Marble Falls Library are sorting donations, repairing items and stocking the store at 300 Avenue J. When the doors open at 9:30 a.m., shoppers know they will always find something new-to-them, from clothing and jewelry to furniture and home accessories. The children's area includes an amazing offering of dolls and toys and, of course because readers take a special interesting in supporting the store, there are books, videos and audio selections.

Sales are so brisk the Friends are able to direct about $10,000 a month to the Marble Falls Public Library, now celebrating a Platinum Anniversary at the 101 Main Street facility that Friends helped to build 20 years ago.

Among celebration events Oct. 2-6, will be Thrift Store Day on Thursday, Oct. 5, a recognition for more than 30 volunteers and 15 staff members and Friends who help keep the non-profit running smoothly. But anyone with a history in Marble Falls knows the Friends have struggled.

Just as the library's earliest workers, Lois Anderson and Jeanette Jones, struggled to find an empty corner and a bookshelf somewhere in town to start lending books, supporters from 1948 forward struggled to help.

“When we moved back to Marble Falls in 1980, the Friends were still having bake sales,” said Rebecca Nunnally, one of those early-morning workers who has twice served on the organization's board of directors. “Once a month we would have a sale at the Wallace house; just piles of clothes on a table, and everything was 25 cents apiece.”

When the group got the use of a little four-room house they thought they had it made.

“We thought that was just fabulous,” said Nunnally. “But we outgrew it, so we built a store where Delineations is now (518 Main Street) with all the room we would ever need. But we outgrew that.”

So, 10 years ago, the Friends opened the new Marble Falls Library Thrift Store with the space and look of a small department store. It was just in time too, as county and city budgets have become more and more constrained, library success everywhere has become more and more dependent on its volunteer support.

The arrival of a new second-hand shop has sometimes worried the band of library supporters.

“But our business has actually increased,” said Nunnally. “People have come from other cities to see what makes us successful. But the Thrift Store has been so amazingly successful because of the volunteers and the generosity of this community.”

There is, of course, a little more to success. Location has proven to play a part, always operating in a central, downtown address in walking distance of many residents.

Good management is another key, and the Friends have relied on Virginia Cervantez for 21 years to give the operation continuity, scheduling volunteers and staff management. She has 14 part-timers who contribute everything from counter sales to more specialized jobs.

“Charlie Cummins comes in to help with PR a couple of hours,” said Cervantez. “Bob Peterman is the man you meet when you bring donations to the door on Third Street.”

On the volunteer side there are specialties as well. Clothing and shoe preparations take many hands to examine, freshen and sort. Nancy Hill is in charge of books and Mildred Strickland and Billie Beck repair and display jewelry to its best advantage. Jess and May Lofgreen can be counted on to repair and spruce up framed art. Nancy West specializes in the doll collection. Jo Ellen Cashion makes sure every baby item is clean and pressed and their toys are pristine for new little hands, while Renetta McCall prepares toys for older children.

“Lately we have lost at least eight dedicated volunteers, who have retired in their 90's, moved away or passed away,” said Cervantez.

One of those was Margie Schroeter (Sept. 15, 1918~Aug. 2, 2016), who passed away at the age of 97 just last year. She was Cervantez' sixth grade teacher.

“It has been like a family in Friends of the Library. “We miss the ones who are gone, but we are always welcoming new members.”

What is true of Thrift Store volunteers, is true of the Friends larger organization and its board of directors. Today that board consists of Joe Wizansky, president; Mardi Cockerham, vice president; Carolyn Alley, secretary; Bill Gaylord, treasurer; members Pat Bentley, Rose Butler, Jess Lofgreen, Ronald Nicholas, Kaye Owen and Gladys Tynes; and ex-officio members Cervantez and Amanda Rose, library director.

The schedule of 20th Anniversary events includes:

Monday, Oct. 2 – Children's Day

10 a.m. – Pre-Schooler Parade

10:30 a.m. – Lollipop the Clown Magic Show

4 p.m. – After School Parade

4:30 p.m. – Lollipop Magic Show

Tuesday, Oct. 3 – Librarians Daya luncheon for librarians

Wednesday, Oct. 4 – Authors Dayvisits from authors, book signings, silent auction

Thursday, Oct. 5 – Thrift Store Daya tea for volunteers and staff

Friday, Oct. 6 – The Big Celebration!

 

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