JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
“It's truly a labor of love,” said Barbara Bryant, manager of the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Thrift Shop, about her experience running the thrift shop.
The thrift shop has been in operation for almost 80 years. Barb, as she likes to be referred, started managing the shop about 12 years ago.
Dependents, civilians, officers, enlisted and everyone with base access are welcomed to shop there.
Along with donations, the thrift shop also offers consignments, and 25 percent of the profit is kept for the shop.
Most of the money received at the thrift shop is given back to military children scholarships, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, charitable donations and many more outlets.
“Last year, we raised $34,500 in college scholarships and other entities,” Barb said. “You think these two-dollar items are just small change, but it adds up."
The JBSA-Randolph Thrift Shop is run by more than 63 volunteers and a handful of paid positions.
“When people compliment my work, I'm like ‘Well it's because of these ladies’ and they say ‘No, no, somebody has to drive the boat,’” Barb said. “I say, ‘Okay, I'm driving the boat but they're following me.’"
Anyone with access on base can become a volunteer. The process starts at the shop with a simple orientation and scheduling.
“I used to be a customer when I worked at (JBSA) Randolph,” said Cynthia Hennessey, a thrift shop volunteer for nearly 15 years. “The ladies (here) were so nice that I decided after I retire that I would come and volunteer.”
Volunteering is work, and according to Hennesey, a lot of ladies come in as more of a social time and camaraderie.
“We have a good time together,” she said.
When asked about the atmosphere of the shop, Robert Wagner, a longtime customer, described it as friendly.
“They all know my name,” Wagner said. “Other stores I’ve been to, you’re just somebody there to do business. Here, they talk to you about what you’re going to do, where you’re going on vacation and where they’re going. They really try to get the people who work here to know who you are. That’s one of Barbara’s top things, making sure you know who your customer is and try to remember their name, because people like that.”
Another aspect that sets the JBSA-Randolph Thrift Shop apart from the rest is the “list” Barbara has of items each customer generally wants or is looking for. When something is donated to the thrift shop that is under a customer’s name, the staff saves it for that person.
“I’ve brought some things in sometimes and she says ‘Oh I want that,’ because she knows somebody else wants it. In fact, before it even gets on the shelf, she’s back here taking care of her customers,” Wagner said. “That’s beyond what they really have to do as a thrift store.”
Customers and staff of the thrift shop continue to rave about the atmosphere and quality of the shop.
“I personally think a lot comes from Barbara because she is the one consistent person that is always here. She will not take credit for this, but she is really, really good,” said Tracey Howe, a Chairman at the thrift shop said. “It's kind of like a trickle-down effect and she backs you up with whatever you need.”