A Nifty selection

Brandon’s thrift store tabbed as parade’s Grand Marshal

Laura Peterson, left, stands next to the new sign for the thrift shop with fellow board members Barbara Sprague and Marie Bradbury.

The first thing parade-goers will see at this year’s Fourth of July celebration will be 20 Nifty Thrifty volunteers — all dressed in red, white and blue — marching (ok, some will ride) through Park Village as this year’s Grand Marshal.

The 20 or so volunteers who help run the store make for the perfect grand marshals because of their exceptional work giving back to the community.

“We chose Nifty Thrifty based on all the good work and community building they do,” Brandon Recreation department head Bill Moore said of this year’s choice. “Not only are they a great thrift shop, they invest that money back into the community.”

As for “marching” in the parade, Nifty Thrifty spokesperson Laura Peterson said that while as many as can will march, others will be making the journey in cars.

 “It used to be that the men went to work and the women stayed home, so we’d have plenty who would volunteer,” Peterson recalled. “Now, women go to work too, so there’s not as many who have the time (during the day), so our volunteers are mostly retired now.”

But that doesn’t mean they are one of the most active shops in town, and have recently gathered a lot of public attention because of a forced move. In fact, they have just opened in a new location in the Episcopal Church rectory building — their seventh location since the thrift shop first opened 44 years ago.

Although she thinks the store may have been forgotten for a time, Peterson said that the circumstances surrounding their move may have helped put the spotlight back on them.

“We were kind of in the background for a while,” she said of the store’s backside location in its previous location. “We were in the Ayrshire Building for a long time and because (the new owners) had a different vision for the building, we were given 90 days to move out.”

Peterson said they put a plea out to the public that they needed a new space and they were the talk of the town for the past few months.

“The thought of not having a thrift shop in town really brought the focus on us,” Peterson said. After a long search and looking at various options, they chose the church.

“We could have afforded a different building, but then (with those added expenses) we wouldn’t have anything to give back to the community,” she said.

And the Nifty Thrifty has a long history of giving back to the community.

Started by Betty Moffett in 1975, Peterson said they try to keep the same philosophy that the store began with: to provide quality goods for affordable prices and give all the proceeds back to the people of the town.

Throughout the year, they give $500 a month away to a local organization. They recently helped out with funding for the new gazebo.

“When they were moving the gazebo, it fell apart and we offered to help pay for a new gazebo,” Peterson said. “We don’t make a lot of money on what we sell, just nickels and dimes really, but with our nickels and dimes we gave $6,000 for it.”

They have also given donations to The Brandon Area Toy Project, the Neshobe PTO, several churches to fund repairs, the Brandon Carnival and Independence Day parade, to name only a few.

Peterson said they are flattered and delighted to be selected as grand marshal for the parade. And when people see them out front, leading the parade, maybe it will also help remind them of where they can take their leftover items, she said.

“They are the last of a dying breed,” Moore said of the shop. “They are a shining example of what a non-profit should be.”

The Nifty Thrifty is also sponsoring one of the new features of this year’s Fourth of July celebration — the community supper. Catered by Keith’s store in Pittsford, BBQ will be served for $5 a plate. Only 100 tickets are available and they are going fast. You can purchase a ticket at Carr’s Gifts in downtown Brandon.

The parade will get underway at a new time this year, 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, July 6, so be there early and make some noise for this year’s grand marshals.

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