APA! Thrift: The Intersection of Fashion + Philanthropy

by Natalie Berry

In a city like Austin, where there are an abundance of quirky thrift and vintage stores, the market can be hard to enter. But at just eight months old, Austin Pets Alive! Thrift is thriving.

Store Manager Oliver Jolis spearheaded the development of the store after moving to Austin with the intention of starting a resale shop to benefit a shelter. He first heard about APA! from his sister, who owns Sunroom, a clothing boutique on South Congress.

“I choose to devote my time to APA! because its progressive, innovative programs have found safe and loving homes for thousands of homeless animals who would have otherwise been euthanized at kill shelters across Texas,” said Jolis. “APA! has made Austin the largest no-kill city in America since 2011 and is passionately leading the no-kill movement around the nation.”

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Dress sharp with APA!

APA! Thrift was started with the mission to “to sell only the highest quality, curated merchandise for the lowest prices in town” with all net proceeds going to support programs at APA!. Prices for clothing in the front of the store typically ranges from $3 to $10, and most pieces of costume jewelry are only a couple of bucks. Housewares, shoes, and other knick-knacks are all priced very fairly.

The store also has a record section, a designated Pet Room, and a well-stocked boutique area, featuring designer and vintage items. All donations — whether from individuals, Buffalo Exchange or other businesses — are carefully combed through by volunteers so that the selection is top-notch.

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Spinning some vinyl

Current Assistant Store Manager, Heather Lavis, discovered APA! Thrift shortly before it opened in May 2017. She began as a volunteer and then quickly moved up to Volunteer Coordinator.

“Because APA! is so loved, the donations are incredible,” said Lavis. “A lot of people [who donate] say they weren’t going to give [their items] away, but because it’s for APA! they’re willing to. Austin really loves APA!.”

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Thriftin’ finds

As a volunteer for APA!, I primarily work on stocking and pricing items for the boutique. Just in my past shift alone, I priced a Chanel cardigan, a Diane Von Furstenberg sweater, and Tory Burch sandals. The boutique most frequently sees brands like Free People, Lululemon, and Ralph Lauren, but there are always exceptions. A donor once dropped off her entire Stella McCartney collection, two seasons worth of items. Two Prada purses were once donated at the same time, and a $3,000 Versace bag sold for $275 at the store.

“We also get in gorgeous kitchenware, home decor and collectibles including some amazing traditional hats from Niger, a wedding headdress from Kyrgyzstan, a vintage sterling-silver opium pipe from India, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and multiple million-year-old fossils,” said Jolis. “Then, of course, there’s our ‘Keep Austin Weird’ section, featuring an eclectic collection of craziness that needs to be seen to be believed.”

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Little knick knacks to browse through

In the past, APA! Thrift has hosted holiday “Sip n Shops,” where the store stays open later and offers free wine to customers, and in March they plan to host a fashion event with BarkHappy. However, the most popular and student-friendly events are definitely Bin Sale Blowouts, which are now offered upstairs every day. Visitors receive 13-gallon trash bags that they can fill with as much clothing as they can fit, all for $10, a great way to refresh one’s closet on a tight budget!

Other than donating to or patronizing APA! Thrift — and taking advantage of the 20% off student discount — there are other ways to get involved. They are opening up a second store location in South Austin, so there’s a constant need for one-time or consistent volunteers. While I am a more recent volunteer, I already think the experience is very gratifying and a great way to combine a love of animals with a passion for clothing or fashion. There is a store dog, Sweets, and many other dogs coming and going, which is always a plus. Also, the fact that volunteers get first pick of incoming items is a huge perk.

Volunteers are absolutely crucial to APA! Thrift’s success,” said Jolis. “From sorting donations to checking out customers, stocking the floor to cleaning, maintaining and improving the building to marketing outreach, volunteers are truly the life blood of APA! Thrift. The money saved on labor costs allows the store to generate the most money possible for the shelter.”

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These boots are made for… saving a pup’s life!

One could easily make a day out of thrifting at APA!. From campus, the 803, 3, and 5 buses will get you to that area of Burnet in about 20 minutes. While you’re on Burnet, grab some vegan calamari from Citizen Eatery or a latte from Brentwood Social House, both located within walking distance to APA!. There are numerous other resale and thrift stores around the area, but make sure to check out APA! first for the great prices and pups.

You can follow APA! Thrift on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on news, events, and exclusive deals. They are open 10 to 6 on Monday through Wednesday and 10 to 8 on Thursday through Sunday. If you’re interested in volunteering, visit APA!’s website to register. •

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Natalie Berry is a third year Advertising major from Cypress, Texas. This is her second semester with Spark, but her first semester being a dedicated blog writer.

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