A snazzy window display welcomes shoppers to Republic of Thrift, where “Thriftina” the mannequin sports a curly wig and a shimmering sapphire gown, a sprinkling of confetti and daisies at her feet. Nearby are two champagne glasses and a bottle of bubbly.
It’s not just another clever window installation at the Fetters Hot Springs thrift store. The display celebrates five successful years as a fundraising venue for the public schools in Sonoma Valley.
The vignette pays tribute to those who donate merchandise and shop at the store, helping raise more than $150,000 to date for the Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s 11 campuses.
The Highway 12 shop opened in February 2012 with crossed fingers, an evolving business plan and the collective enthusiasm of two founding partners who can’t quite agree which one came up with the idea to help schools by selling secondhand goods.
“One of us said it,” noted Jeannette Tomany, 51, who runs Republic of Thrift with her sister, Michelle Mammini, 49.
Known for its quirky window displays, affordable prices and variety of goods, Republic of Thrift offers 2,700 feet of retail space. Clothing and accessories are a mainstay, with a revolving cache of household goods, decorative items, toys, books, vintage finds and everything from school and craft supplies to tools, training wheels and Shirley Temple movies (a set of three classics for $1.50).
Everything is well organized and priced to move quickly, with 100 percent of the net profits supporting public education in the valley. Shirts, for example, sell for $4, baby clothes are $1, most stuffed animals are 25 cents, hardcover books are 50 cents, a vintage Kentucky bourbon whiskey decanter of a circus elephant was priced at $5, a collectible Pez candy dispenser was a quarter, and two satin First Holy Communion girls’ dresses with fancy appliqués and beading were each marked at $15.
There isn’t space or muscle enough for much furniture; the sisters prefer handling lighter-weight merchandise. Smaller furniture items appear on occasion, but treasure hunters know to visit frequently for specialty items, old-time treasures or designer wear.
Aside from furniture, “We have everything; I’d say everything,” Mammini said. “It’s the thrill of the hunt. People like something vintage or unique and different. A lot of people like to hunt.”
The sisters enjoy meeting an eclectic group of shoppers, from nearby Springs-area residents to tourists searching for something special.
They carry swimsuits year-round to assist the many visitors staying at a nearby luxury hotel and spa who forget to pack their trunks or suits for the hotel’s pools.
Santa Rosa residents Maribel and Arturo Sanchez stopped by on a recent afternoon to shop for clothing, after saving for an upcoming vacation to Mazatlán, Mexico.
The couple downsized and reduced their work hours after the birth of their 10-month-old twin sons, preferring to spend more time at home with their babies.
Republic of Thrift helps the couple shop within their reduced budget; Maribel is a registered nurse who works per diem and her husband is an EKG technician with part-time hours.
“It’s a great place. Amazing,” Maribel Sanchez said. “The prices are great.”
Like the Church Mouse, a longtime Sonoma Valley thrift store with two locations that aids a local parochial school, Republic of Thrift helps students, teachers and school staff.