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Shopping for a cause: Indy Thrift Store helps domestic abuse survivors

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Posted at 3:11 PM, May 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-29 21:59:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A northwest Indianapolis thrift store may have a cure for your buyer's remorse.

Located at 86th Street and Ditch Road, Thrifty Threads offers high end clothing for a good cause. The profits from this store directly benefit domestic abuse survivors.

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"Thrifty Threads IS the Julien Center," Liss Woods Assistant Manager at Thrifty Threads said.

The Julien Center, founded in 1975 is an organization with the sole purpose of protecting and empowering domestic violence survivors.

It has been a safe place for survivors to find refuge, support, and resources for many years in Indianapolis.

Thrifty Threads has been around for more than 20 years and was created to provide survivors with a place to get the items they need for no cost.

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"All proceeds from Thrifty Threads go to support the Julien Center," Woods said.

Originally, Woods said The Julien Center took donations and let survivors pick out what they wanted. "But that became sort of messy and undignified" Woods said. So they decided to open a location.

According to Woods, there's many reasons why a survivor of domestic abuse may need new clothing or household items.

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"Often our survivors come to us in emergency situations," Woods said. "The police have been called, they're at the hospital, they've left their place of residence and often are essentially in hiding. Very often they have to leave, suddenly and without things. So we don't want anyone to have to go back into a dangerous situation just for..stuff."

Thrifty Threads provides these things survivors were suddenly left without: toys for children, men's women's, and children's clothing, furniture, books, movies, kitchen appliances and more.

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Another importance, Woods says is often overlooked, is the freedom of choice that many survivors were not granted in abusive relationships.

"A lot of times our survivors are coming from very controlled situations where they haven't had access to the things they need, or the things they like, or the ability to make their own decisions on you know the things they want in their life, be it the clothes or household goods or furniture," Woods said. "It's also just empowering."

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Woods explains that survivors shop in the store through a voucher program, which is one reason she kindly asked me not to take photos with anyone in the picture, for privacy. "It's a dignified way to do things. Woods said. "And we're big on dignity."

Empowering. Dignity. Woods uses these words frequently when talking about what Thrifty Threads stands for.

Thrifty Threads is not just any second hand store, more than just unwanted items — Thrifty threads offers vintage, cherished pieces.

While browsing, I spotted authentic Dior and Prada kitten heels, a Louis Vuitton scarf, a Gucci suit, a vintage Bottega Veneta bag, Manolo Blahnik boots and Fendi sunglasses. I even saw Helmut Lang and an Acne Studios sweater. Woods assured me, I would find more Designer pieces if I kept exploring.

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But even more than clothes, the lavish antique glass ware and paintings equally caught my attention.

Items that could be sold and resold for hundreds of dollars, are generously given to Thrifty Threads.

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"One of the paintings we had, I can't remember the artist I wish I could, but when you walk into the Lilly House at Newfields, and you see the portraits of like Ruth Lilly and all that, the same artist did other portraits and we ended up with one," Woods said. "I think that was really one of the ones that blew me away."

Above the racks you'll find signs that remind you of exactly how your money and donations are helping a survivor.

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"Your $15 purchase provides a warm comforter to a victim fleeing abuse." "Your $25 purchase feeds a survivors' group meeting." "Your $100 purchase covers the security deposit on a safe place to live.

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One side of the store is apart of the National Council of Jewish Women. 50 percent of these profits go to the Julien Center and 50 percent go to scholarships and education in the community. Either way, every cent of a dollar spent is helping someone.

Thrifty Threads takes donations Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store is open for shopping at the same times.

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"You pull up out back with your donations, we ask if it's for the NCJW or The Julien Center, We divy them up and we sort through them," - Liss Woods

You can look on their website, for a list of items accepted and not accepted.

The store is also looking for volunteers.

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Thrifty Threads sells the items that don't make it on the rack by the pound.

"Just two hours is all we ask, and you get 20 percent off," said Woods.

They will especially need help with the newest announcement.

"We're opening a second store," Woods said. "We actually just got a grant from Lilly to open a second store."

Woods says they don't have a location for the second store yet, but it is expected to open within the year.

If you are in a domestically abusive situation and need help, call the Julien Center's 24-Hour Crisis Line (317) 920-9320.