Make us your home page
Instagram

Thrift shop at St. Petersburg College generates jobs, scholarships

PINELLAS PARK

On the surface it looks like an ordinary thrift store. But the gently used clothes, secondhand books and household doodads for sale at Dollars for Scholars Thrift Store are serving another purpose: higher education.

Since opening in June in a cinder block building owned by St. Petersburg College, the bargain store has counted profits of about $30,000. Of that, $25,000 will soon be distributed to needy students, said Michelle Piccione, a college alumni association board member who founded the store.

As a nonprofit organization tied to the national organization Scholarship America, the thrift store has little overhead. The building is provided by the college. Piccione and other staff take no salaries.

They do pay several students about $9 an hour to operate the business as part of their degree training. One of them is Leja Apple, a 19-year-old senior who manages the store, which is adjacent to the Caruth Health Education Center. Several high school students also work there as volunteers.

Piccione, a former president of the alumni association, said the idea for the store came about after college president Carl M. Kuttler Jr. challenged the board to come up with ways to raise money.

A retired businesswoman, Piccione had already been studying the thrift store model. She was amazed that other nonprofit thrift stores were bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

In three months, the thrift store model has provided more money for scholarships than the alumni association has ever raised, Piccione said. Scholarship America, which has 1,200 charter clubs around the country, some operating thrift stores, provided support.

"The hope and dream is to make this a really wonderful foundation for education," she said.

There are other bargain stores in the area, Piccione noted, including the Salvation Army and the PARC Senior Center. But the Dollars for Scholars store is unique.

Among the bargain hunters, students can be found perusing the used textbooks donated by professors. On a recent Wednesday, a speech instructor with two master's degrees, Rebecca Strongbow, was volunteering behind the cash register.

"For $10 you can get a suit to wear to a job interview, and I can give you advice about how to put your best foot forward," Strongbow said.

Through its vast alumni network, the store has received donations from unexpected quarters. A theater group that was retiring dropped off several boxes of costumes, some of which were placed on a Halloween rack. A local Harley-Davidson dealer recently dropped off leather jackets, helmets, chaps and other motorcycle gear (it's all gone now).

Applications for the scholarships, which can be used for textbooks, tuition and other costs, will be available through the store, the college and the alumni association later this month.

Luis Perez can be reached at lperez@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2271.

IF YOU GO

Dollars for Scholars Thrift Store

7028 66th St. N

Pinellas Park

(727) 341-3620

Thrift shop at St. Petersburg College generates jobs, scholarships 10/10/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 10, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  3. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO

    Corporate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Sherry Smith is taking over as CEO at Triad Retail Media, the company announced Monday. | [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  5. Two new condo projects for same street in downtown St. Pete

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — It lacks the panache and name recognition of Beach Drive, but 4th Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg is becoming a condo row in its own right.

    Bezu, a condo project planned at 100 Fourth Ave. NE in downtown St. Petersburg, will have 24 units including a three-level penthouse with infinity pool.
[Courtesy of Clear ph Design]