RAFM thrift shop: Benefiting Airmen, families, community

Riley Glowatch, left, Mildenhall Spouses’ Club member and Trader Winston Thrift Shop cashier and assistant manager, assists a customer buying childrens’ clothes April 27, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. Money raised from items sold in the thrift shop is used to support Department of Defense programs, base morale events and scholarships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

Riley Glowatch, left, Mildenhall Spouses’ Club member and Trader Winston Thrift Shop cashier and assistant manager, assists a customer buying childrens’ clothes April 27, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. Money raised from items sold in the thrift shop is used to support Department of Defense programs, base morale events and scholarships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

Julie Neilsen, Trader Winston Thrift Shop manager and Mildenhall Spouses’ Club member, sorts through the rack of clothes on sale at the store April 27, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The thrift shop sells a wide variety of used clothes and household items at reduced prices for Airmen and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

Julie Neilsen, Trader Winston Thrift Shop manager and Mildenhall Spouses’ Club member, sorts through the rack of clothes on sale at the store April 27, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The thrift shop sells a wide variety of used clothes and household items at reduced prices for Airmen and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Run by the Mildenhall Spouses Club and manned by volunteers, the Trader Winston Thrift Store is a hub of bargains for Airmen and their families.

Selling a wide variety of items including second-hand clothes, electrical goods, books, household and baby items, the thrift shop accepts both consignments and donations. The money raised goes to support Department of Defense programs and base morale events. Additionally, some of the donated goods are given to local, off-base charities.

“Last year we gave out more than $16,000 in scholarships to both adults and kids. The MSC is dedicated to supporting local DOD schools, and has given more than $38,000 this year,” said Julie Nielsen, Trader Winston Thrift Store manager, explaining how profits made by the thrift store are used to benefit Team Mildenhall.

For consignments, sellers must complete paperwork and tags with details of the items, along with the price they want to sell it for. Once sold, the seller receives 70 percent of the asking price, and 30 percent goes to the thrift store.

“People can consign items for 30 days and if items don’t sell, they can either reduce the price one time during the 30 days, come back and pick it up within the timeframe, or leave it to be donated to Trader Winston,” added Nielsen. “It gives people an opportunity to resell some of their items when they leave and gain some of their money back from the expense of moving here. We also allow a one-time consignment of up to 45 items for those PCSing, and we’ll mail them their check. Those stationed here who wish to do consignments can bring in a maximum of 15 items per week, and will need to come in and collect their checks.”

Although the thrift store sells a lot of different items, there are certain things they cannot accept including mattresses, car seats, undergarments and clothing for consignment unless priced at more than $10. Nielsen said they also have a rotating list of things they cannot currently accept, due to having an excess of certain items currently on sale – which changes weekly.

“For instance, if we have 12 irons on the shelf, we might put on the list that we’re not taking irons this week,” said the store manager. “We also only take seasonal items for consignment during their timeframe. For example, we only take Christmas items starting in November, and we won’t accept heaters in July.”

Donated items for recycling can also be used to raise money for RAF Mildenhall. Textile items which are either too dirty, old or worn to be sold get bagged up and taken to the recycling center. It’s also a big help if customers wanting to get rid of such items bag them separately and mark them “Recycle” as it saves the volunteers’ time.

For those new to RAF Mildenhall, the thrift store offers items to help reduce initial outlay when moving into a new home, such as electrical items with British plugs, plates, cups, pictures and much more.

“We get a lot of high-end clothes such as shoes, dresses and suits that are probably not available at the Airmen’s Attic,” said Riley Glowatch, Trader Winston Thrift Shop cashier and assistant manager.

With items coming in all the time, if a customer is looking for something in particular but can’t find it, they can either call or email the thrift store and the staff will contact them if something comes in. There’s also a social media page on which they post offers and information.

Anyone wanting to consign items must pick up, read and sign the list of rules and contract which is provided when doing the first consignment. There is a minimal cost of 25 cents for a set of tickets and details sheet, to offset the cost of printing.

Opening hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday 2 to 6 p.m. The thrift store is also open the first Saturday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Consignments are accepted during the first two-and-a-half hours of the opening hours.

For more information on what can be consigned or donated, call the thrift shop on DSN 238-2303 or commercial at 01638 542303, or email rafmsc.thriftshop@gmail.com.