MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
As patrons weave among rows of furniture, stacks of electronics, bins of toys, tables laden with dishware and shelves brimming with books, they can be a little overwhelmed at the volume and variety of things for sale. But they're not pushing carts through chain discount stores at home. They're looking for bargains at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni's Thrift Store.
The station Thrift Store is a non-profit organization here where station residents can buy inexpensive goods such as household items, outdoor accessories and a myriad of other kinds of merchandise, with the proceeds going back to the community.
“The mission of the Thrift Store is to generate profits that are used to enhance the quality of life for all the residents of MCAS Iwakuni, while providing an alternative shopping experience that is accessible and affordable,” said Sharon Rostkowski, station Thrift Store assistant manager.
“Community benefits offered are free uniforms to active duty personnel and monetary donations to requesting eligible private organizations on MCAS Iwakuni,” said Rostkowski. “The benefits of shopping at the thrift store include being greeted by friendly, polite staff; wide selection of quality items, and discount prices.”
The Thrift Store provides more than a shopping opportunity for servicemembers aboard the station. Service members can contribute to the community by helping there.
“The benefits that can be earned while volunteering with the Thrift Store include a very flexible schedule, LOAs (Letters of Appreciation) with five hours of service, membership and voting privileges with 10 hours of service, board of directors opportunities with 10 hours of service and six months of continued service, and discounted merchandise with 20 hours of service,” said Rostkowski. “All service time is reset on a monthly basis.”
As a non-profit organization, the Thrift Store relies on the volunteers who help out.
“The Thrift Store is highly dependent on the generosity of volunteer time from our community members,” said Rostkowski. “We offer these benefits as a token of gratitude from the Thrift Store to our volunteers.”
The benefits for volunteers are not the only positives about the Thrift Store. Station residents also receive benefits.
“The expected Thrift Store profits are estimated to be $47,000 for the fiscal year 2012,” said Rostkowski. “These profits are to be distributed to private organizations of MCAS Iwakuni for the benefit of the community ... Shopping at the Thrift Store is an easy way for our customers to give back to the community."
Many station residents may be unaware of what the Thrift Store offers and the contributions it makes to the community aboard station.
“To access Thrift Store funds, a private organization must fill out a request form, which is available at the Thrift Store, and submit it prior to the 15th of each month,” said Rostkowski. “All requests will be voted on by eligible voting members and approved by the Thrift Store board of directors. The requesting organization will then be notified of the voting outcome.”
So patrons can not only feel good about that perfect clock radio, or office chair, or briefcase, or DVD, or camera, or skirt, or Japanese tea set, etc., they found at a bargain price. They can feel good about positively contributing to the community at the same time.