Retired shop owner puts skills to work at Stilly thrift store

ARLINGTON — Char Hollibaugh wears a hip little cap and walks through the Stilly Thrift and Collectibles store, joking with customers like she owns the place.

Hollibaugh, 72, is one of the most active volunteers at the thrift shop, which supports the Stillaguamish Senior Center next door.

Store manager Linda Bowman can’t say enough good about Hollibaugh and the more than 20 volunteers at the store. The place couldn’t run without them, she said, and without the income from the store, Arlington’s senior center would struggle financially.

“Char used to be a business owner. She gives us such great advice and is a top-notch saleswoman,” Bowman said. “She befriends the customers, keeps track of what they collect and then goes for it with sales. There’s not anything she won’t do.”

Hollibaugh and her late husband owned Hollispas in Arlington from 1985 to 2008.

“I love people. I love retail. It’s a good fit,” Hollibaugh said. “The crew here are like a second family to me. We share a lot of laughter and sometimes a few tears.”

In the winter, Hollibaugh works at the thrift store from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and on Saturdays when she serves as the manager. In the summer, she spends more time outdoors and just a bit less time at the store.

“This thrift store and our senior center are among the best in the region,” Hollibaugh said. “It’s very rewarding to help out here and at the center. What goes around, comes around.”

On Fridays, Hollibaugh eats lunch at the center and then delivers meals to several older women she calls her “golden girls.”

“Someday, I may need a little help, too,” she said.

The thrift store, which had its beginnings in the 1940s, has operated as Stilly Thrift and Collectibles since about 1998, Bowman said. In 2006, nearby Smokey Point Community Church took on a much-needed remodeling project for the thrift store, putting in a new ceiling, lighting and shelving.

When Bowman signed on as manager seven years ago, the store took in about $200 a day. Today, the income has more than doubled. In December, monthly sales reached the $20,000 mark, Bowman said.

“Senior centers have struggled in the recession, but our Stillaguamish Senior Center has benefited from the store,” Bowman said. “We have to thank our volunteers and the wonderful folks who donate belongings to the thrift store. And when a customer smiles because he or she picked up a killer deal at our store, that feels really good.”

Bowman and Hollibaugh pride themselves on clean, orderly and attractive store displays.

“We want it to be a little boutique,” Hollibaugh said. “People come in and tell me it doesn’t look or smell like a thrift store. That makes all the work worth it.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Volunteers needed

More volunteers, especially those with cashier experience, are needed at Stilly Thrift Store and Collectibles, which supports the Stillaguamish Senior Center of Arlington. More information is available by calling 360-658-4991. The store, located at 18218 Smokey Point Blvd., is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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