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Prague Thrift Store

Finding good deals and helping charity


Posted: October 5, 2011

By Alex Tyler - For the Post | Comments (0) | Post comment

If it's true that charity starts at home, Prague Thrift Store helps complete the cycle.

With one of the city's widest selections of secondhand clothes, books, electronics and more - all proceeds of which going to organizations like the International Women's Association of Prague - Prague Thrift Store is stocked full of all kinds of bric-a-brac.

Upon entering, one is immediately struck by the crowded nature of the store: children's toys squeezed onto shelves and delicately balanced luggage piled to the ceiling. These pillars are punctuated by layers of kitchen appliances propped up by bookshelves of English-language literature. Nothing, not even space, is wasted at Prague Thrift Store.

"Living in the U.S., we became thrift-shop junkies," Thomas Szende, the Hungarian proprietor of this organized chaos, tells The Prague Post.

Prague Thrift Store
 
Where: Šumavská 29, Prague 2-Vinohrady
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
E-mail: Prague.thriftstore@gmail.com
Web: Praguethriftstore.com

Unlike other secondhand shops, charity shops are retail establishments run by charitable organizations and stocked by donations from companies or the public. Often associated with those who are frugal, such stores have become popular enough to earn the slang term "thrifting" to describe shopping there. The shop's location in the Vinohrady neighborhood seems to indicate it too has been cut from this hip, if vintage, cloth.

Though common abroad, the concept of dedicated thrift stores is still a new one to the Czech Republic, something Szende and his wife Barbara soon discovered when they wanted to donate their excess baggage after moving to the city from the United States.

"We looked for a thrift store or charity shop, but there was [none] in Prague. Very few places spoke English, and one even said to just leave it in the street," Szende says.

Their luggage ended up in their basement. Barbara soon managed to build up a relationship with charitable members of the international community, and soon enough, they were operating a rudimentary thrift store from their own home. Before long, however, the operation grew too large.

"I thought we should do it," Szende says. "We rented a small store in town, and the whole thing just came into motion."

Since its creation, Prague Thrift Store has helped to support various nonprofit organizations, including homeless shelters, children's education, a shelter for single mothers and the International Women's Association of Prague. Szende and his wife have a clear desire to make connections and encourage mutual community support. This ethic isn't restricted to the groups they support; they provide a tangible service to every individual who comes into the store.

"We never comprimise on customer service," Szende says.

This seems to be an understatement; a comfortable atmosphere is maintained in the shop by a constant flow of banter and friendly conversation.

"Some people just come in for a good chat," Szende admits. "It's about making everyone happy."

This is all bolstered by some bargains on a range of brand-new and used items.

"You get 10 percent off if you like it," Szende beams as he helps a curious shopper try on a purple dress shirt.

Specific discount days are advertised on the store's Facebook page, where details regarding donations can be found. The shop's website also offers directions on how to go about having someone stop by your home to pick up some of your own unwanted items, to help give them a second life.

Though idyllic in setting and concept, Prague Thrift Store can only continue its charitable exploits with the help of the public, whether it be through donations or custom.


Alex Tyler can be reached at
atyler@praguepost.com

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