Building the Valley: Cheap Clothes and Home Appliances Helping People at the Agape Thrift Store in Harrison

Since at least the mid-1980s, the Agape Thrift Store in Harrison has been helping people boost their wardrobes and self-esteem.

The second-hand store is located in the basement of Grace United Methodist Church, at 1333 Freeport Road, and is open from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesdays.

In just three hours a week, dozens of people come for help with work clothes, baby shoes, and countless other things.

“We’re usually pretty busy,” said Carol Peters, parishioner of Harrison’s church and head of the clothing store. “We usually have a crowd waiting for us when we open.”

The most popular items are clothes for working people and anything for babies and toddlers.

“I’m totally out of baby clothes now,” Peters said. “We have people with all kinds of circumstances. Sometimes it’s the grandparents who are suddenly raising young children. Sometimes people are out of work and can’t afford clothes for a new job.

“I’m glad we have a mission to help everyone.”

Grace UMC has been sitting prominently along Freeport Road since 1928. Reverend Diane Cary Randolph said Agape’s mission was not to make money for the church.

“It’s about community building,” she said.

Peters, who heads a five-person volunteer staff, said Agape is partnering with the Allegheny Valley Churches Association to provide free clothing to people in need.

“Even without a coupon, you can stuff a brown paper grocery bag for $3,” she said. “You can have a lot of clothes in that bag.”

Hannah Summers of New Kensington is a regular customer. Show up on Wednesdays to peruse the two rooms, which are stocked with everything from holiday decor and glassware to toiletries and jewelry.

This week she bought a huge stack of Christmas window tweezers, gift tags, and puzzles for $7.25.

“I usually come every week,” Simers said. “My mom and I love going to Goodwill too and shopping to see what we can find.”

Grace UMC pop-up shoppers are more likely to find quality merchandise at bargain prices. On the shelves now are women’s shoes from Naturalizer for $2, Eddie Bauer’s down jacket for $2.50, and a whole lot of paperbacks for 25 cents each.

“There are a lot of people out there who don’t have any, or besides him,” said Kathy Russell, a retired teacher from Winchester Thurston who lives in Harrison.

Russell is a church member who has volunteered once a month for the past decade.

“It’s great to see what we can do to help here,” she said.

Anyone interested in donating to a thrift store can visit during business hours or leave bags on the church’s covered front porch.

Taunia Banese is a staff writer for the Tribune Review. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, tpanizzi@triblive.com, or via Twitter .

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