I have a special affection for the St. Justin Thrift Store.
I still wear a tweedy jacket I bought there close to 20 years ago. For a long time my go-to “little black dress” was one I bought there for $2. That dress worked hard — taking it from daytime business to formal dinners only required a different pair of shoes — and it was only finally retired after long and honorable service. It remains the best deal I ever got from nearly a lifetime of thrift store shopping.
So, when I drove past the store Saturday afternoon on my way to return the one hardcopy book I’ve borrowed from the library since 2019, I was excited to see a “Thrift Store Open” sign.
Started by the parish in the 1960s, the thrift store became a funding source for St. Justin School in the 1980s. In the fall of 2019, St. Justin school found that the cost of running the store made it infeasible to continue to run the business, even with parent volunteers helping out, and the store was slated to close after more than 60 years in business.
“People were up in arms,” said St. Justin Director of Community Ministry Joe Bauer. “So the community ministry took over the store.”
Bauer’s team decide to reopen the store on a smaller scale as the Outgrown Shop. Unfortunately, the reopening happened three weeks before the COVID shutdown.
The store reopened “semi-quietly” in October 2022, said manager Karol Gallucci. Quiet as it was, donations began pouring in, forcing the store to put a hold on donations.
“We had so much stuff, the volunteers couldn’t move around,” she said.
They anticipate that the store will begin taking donations again early this summer.
Unlike other thrift stores, St. Justin’s has a community identity and mission.
“We opened up to help the community,” said Gallucci. “It’s more than a store. People like to come here; they have memories of coming here as children. They remember what they bought here. Our donors want their items to be ‘re-homed.’”
One thing that made the pre-COVID thrift store beloved by collectors was its collection of vinyl records.
“I was hoping that we can have a vinyl record section, where we play records in the collection while we’re open,” said Gallucci. “We already have the record player.”
The Outgrown Shop is open right now on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For serious bargain hunters, the third weekend of the month — coinciding with the library’s book sales — features half price sales for one section of the store.
The Outgrown Shop, formerly St. Justin Thrift Store, is at 2655 Homestead Rd. between San Tomas and Kiely, right next to the Santa Clara City Library.
For information, visit the Outgrown Shop’s Facebook page or st-justin.org/community-ministry or call (408) 296-1193 ext. 150.