New Libertyville thriftstore on charitable mission
Though the goods are cheap, they aren't shabby. St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store sorter Monica Davi of Grayslake, looks through clothing items for holes and stains. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store
Where: 1125 S. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville
Phone: (847) 367-4700
Updated: April 22, 2013 2:46AM
LIBERTYVILLE — Step into the building at 1125 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville’s Greentree Plaza and you may find $2 dresses, TVs for $7 or $50 bunk beds, all neatly arranged and displayed.
The prices, however, aren’t the only things that separate St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store from regular retail — the store also has a special mission.
The retailer is part of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the poor. The group operates more than 400 similar stores all over the country and the 12,000 square-foot Libertyville site is Lake County’s first.
Profits from each store are put in special fund earmarked for a larger charitable project. Officials from the Libertyville site said its profits will eventually fund a transitional housing program for those living on the margins of society.
“Its goal will be to lift people out of poverty,” said Bill Soucie, president of the society’s council in charge of the Libertyville location. “People who are poor are trying very hard to make it, to become independent, but they are dealing with a variety of issues. If they had some support around them to deal with all that, it would make a big difference.”
The Libertyville store is hosting a grand opening at 10 a.m. Feb. 25 and festivities through March 2, even though the store quietly opened in late November. Despite its lack of publicity, the store already has loyal customers who are regulars.
“We have people who come in every day,” Executive Director Frieda Bertello said.
Bertello added that the thrift stores tend to be immensely popular attractions in their respective areas.
“The biggest number of hits on our website is people looking for the thrift store locations,” she said.
This bodes well for the organization, which operates two other stores in Cook County and plans to open additional outposts in Lake County.
Organizers said this is due to the growing need in the community for both the inexpensive merchandise, and programs like transitional housing.
Yet not all shoppers are low-income people who can’t afford to buy new goods.
“We get a lot of bargain hunters, book collectors, other collectors and resellers,” Bertello said.
“These days, it’s trendy and cool to get something from the thrift store,” said Soucie. “Many shoppers are high school and college kids.”
The shopping fun aside, Soucie and the rest of the over 2,000 active St. Vincent DePaul members in Cook and Lake Counties are keeping their eyes on the real prize: helping those who need it most.
“People in poverty don’t have support networks,” Soucie said. “It’s very lonely.”
“We become extended family to them and give them the dignity they deserve,” said Bertello.