ETC Shop: DONATING PROFITS TO THE COMMUNITY FOR HALF A CENTURY
Run by a volunteer committee and a tiny staff of part-time employees, the ETC Shop, a cozy philanthropic consignment shop on Old Forest Road, is celebrating 50 years of operation.
Members of the Lynchburg Junior Woman’s Club (LJWC) opened the ETC Shop in August 1970 with a goal of donating all profits back to the community. 81-year-old Becky Spetz, a member of the founding committee, remembers the vision they had. “We needed a way to fund the important projects we wanted to do in the community,” says Becky. “In particular, we were trying to fund a petting zoo in Miller Park… . We operated the zoo for awhile, but it was the ETC Shop that really stuck.”
Originally, E-T-C stood for Everyone’s Thrifty Cottage, but now folks refer to the thrift store as The “Etcetera” Shop. Prior to opening, Becky and a committee of women from the LJWC visited an established shop in Pittsburgh and modeled the ETC Shop after that business. Amazingly, the Lynchburg store is still open while the one in Pittsburgh closed long ago.
The original location of the shop was on Boonsboro Road in the Kroger shopping center. “We have four generations of families coming into the shop,” says Susan Spetz Kidd, Becky’s daughter and shop employee for more than 20 years. Susan, like her mother, was also a member of the club for a number of years. “We had a woman who came into the shop several months ago who remembers her mother buying the dress she wore to her wedding—47 years ago—at the ETC Shop. She also bought a little boy’s navy suit and told her at the time whichever brother fits the suit would be the one to wear it.”
All sorts of clothing and household items find their way into the shop. “We even had someone sell a worm farm kit through us,” says Anne Gerhardt, ETC Shop employee and past member of the LJWC. “And, wouldn’t you know, the person who bought it still comes in and lets us know what a success that worm farm was.”
The highest priced item sold by the ETC Shop was a beaver coat for just under $1,000. “People don’t wear fur coats anymore,” says Susan, “but what a find for someone years ago! A few years back, we also received what turned out to be someone’s diamond engagement ring, but, when we realized it was a valuable diamond and probably sentimental as well, we returned it to its rightful owner.”
The ETC Shop accepts 20 items per week/per consignee and prefers them to be less than three years old, in good condition, and seasonal. The consignee and the shop split the sale of the item 50/50. After eight weeks, consignees can retrieve their items or donate them to the shop.
“Over the last 50 years, the LJWC has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars—all profits from the ETC Shop—to Lynchburg and surrounding counties through a wide variety of groups,” explains Marilyn Norfield, treasurer of the thrift store and past member of the LJWC.
The LJWC has funded projects for Centra Health, the Lynchburg Humane Society, Girls on the Run, Miriam’s House, Miller Home, Boys and Girls Club, and many more. One of the largest funded gifts was toward the purchase of the first neonatal van in Lynchburg in the 1970s. Also, for decades, the LJWC has funded the Sterling Silver Award—each Lynchburg City Schools library receives a monetary award and the staff receives recognition.
“It’s amazing what we can fund from the profits of a $3 pair of shorts,” laughs Susan.
The ETC Shop is located at 2912 Old Forest Rd. #B, Lynchburg and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.