If you haven’t been to Ruth’s House lately, you may not recognize the nonprofit thrift store due to all the advances it has made to become more of a community shopping destination. The first sign that the shop, located at 111 Lafayette Square, has upgraded is the window displays, which creatively showcase seasonal or topical items.
The store celebrates each season with holiday giveaways and Budget Bundles, curated collections of small items that are perfect for gift giving. In addition, generous donors provide top-quality items that make high-end looks within grasp. For example, the shop has a selection of brand-new real leather jackets for $40 that retailed at $300 or more.
The shop was opened in 1992 by Jackie Greenbough Silver, who had experienced the hardship of poverty and wanted to help ease that burden for other families. More than 30 years later, the shop is going strong and evolving to meet the changing needs of its customers.
Executive Director Amanda Smith- Boden says she’s most proud of the shop’s ability to enhance personal style with items that elevate clothing from functional to fabulous and houses from livable to lively. “It’s incredibly difficult to live among the low-income population, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have things that bring you joy,” Smith- Boden. “We can help you with that. We want our shoppers to be able to feel good about how they look and the space they call home.”
Ruth’s House is more than a destina tion for affordable shopping. In collaboration with Haverhill Promise, Ruth’s House is addressing a barrier between children and reading by providing kids with free books. A child can earn a $5 Ruth’s House gift card each month that they complete five books.
The shop is also be a source for styling tips. Volunteers at the shop can help you pull together a special outfit. When she was a volunteer with Ruth’s House, Féliz the Stylist generated interest on social media with outfits she coordinated from finds at the shop. The ensembles were big on impact and low on cost. Féliz advises shoppers to “look for multi-purpose pieces that can be layered and used in different seasons for different looks.”
While living in Haverhill and volunteering at Ruth’s House, Féliz was also a movie wardrobe designer (a film she worked on is scheduled to air soon on the Lifetime network). Ruth’s House management allowed her to borrow pieces to bring to the set.
In March, Féliz moved to New York City, where she is pursuing a sideline as a personal stylist with a major retailer. She has family in Haverhill and will be back to visit, but she is confident that she left several qualified stylists to continue her legacy.
Thrifting has developed into a national pastime as shoppers reject fast fashion and look for unique pieces—clothing, furniture or home goods—that will withstand the test of time. Ruth’s House diverts 7 to 8 tons of clothing alone from landfills each month, which is remarkable given the small size of the shop. Ruth’s House doesn’t bring dated, dirty, worn, or off-season items to the selling floor. Those are turned over to textile recyclers for pennies a pound.
For more information about Ruth’s House, visit the website, ruthshouse.org. The shop is open five days a week, Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donation hours are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.