Something’s changed at Clothes Less Traveled. Even passers-by on Highway 74 South in Peachtree City can see it. A banner over the front door, sporting the local thrift store’s new logo and fresh green and navy colors, hints of what’s new inside.
The banner, along with other finishing touches on the store’s refresh campaign, was unveiled at an open house on October 25. The new logo, rebranded donations truck, and more fresh paint, trim, and landscaping topped off the already impressive upgrades in floor plan and signage throughout the store.
Board members, volunteers, staff, vendors, and longtime supporters gathered at an open house to celebrate the culmination of the nearly two-year-long project at Clothes Less Traveled, often referred to as CLT.
“Those of us who have been working on this project for a really long time are so excited this night has come,” Peggy Thomas, board chair, told the crowd.
“I love our new look inside and out,” Thomas said. “And it’s not even just the paint, it’s in the hearts of the people here too, so it has truly been inside and out.”
When the campaign started, the board knew there was no need to rebrand the store, Thomas said, but a refresh was necessary to remain relevant, improve sales, and get customers into the store. Thomas compared the occasion to a wedding.
“It’s like the culmination of all this planning, but now the new phase of our lives begins,” she said. “The second part of this project is going to be called Reshare, where we go back out into the community as ambassadors and continue to share our story.”
Thomas pointed out the need to make sure a new generation understands how the store serves the community.
Clothes Less Traveled celebrates 25 years of service in 2022. Since 1997, CLT has poured more than $7 million into local charities. These funds come from the proceeds of sales of gently used clothing and household items donated by local residents.
As fresh and new as the changes are at the store, one thing that hasn’t changed is CLT’s purpose.
Joan Velsmid, who co-founded along with Mary Ann Cox, reminded the group of the store’s original mission statement.
“It says, ‘We are going to establish the best community thrift shop ever, “Velsmid said. “‘And in doing so, we are going to ask the community to donate gently used clothing and household items, and then we’re going to price them fairly. Then we are going to ask the community to volunteer their time to help us with this mission.’”
The mission statement has one caveat, Velsmid noted.
“All of these actions must be done with a servant’s heart, a smile, and a synergy of love and appreciation.”
After several years in business, the board amended the original statement to address an unexpected “windfall success,” pledging to invest the financial proceeds from the project back into the community in the form of grants to local, not-for-profit organizations. Velsmid challenged the group to continue the work in the spirit of the founders.
The spirit of the original mission statement remains intact in the current mission statement, which reads:
We are a community thrift store sharing God’s love by reinvesting proceeds from donations into local charities.
“You’re only 25 now,” she told the group. “If you want to be celebrating long milestones for decades to come, I ask every one of you that’s involved with this organization to embrace and defend the mission statement, and you’ll enjoy longevity.”
The board announced a new Annual Founder’s Grant in honor of the upcoming anniversary and Velsmid and Cox, the visionaries who gave birth to CLT. The grant will benefit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, which works to prevent homelessness, fight hunger, and change lives.
“I make this announcement about the new grant we’re presenting to acknowledge the legacy and all the work, all the heart, and all the compassion of the founders of this organization,” Pam Reid, board member and grant committee chair, said. “They laid the foundation and the groundwork for all that you see today. And the foundation is so deep that it will extend itself for the next 20, 30, 40 years.”
Reid also announced that staff and board members would be allowed to direct a grant of $1,000 each to CLT’s approved list of charities this year, renewing a long-time practice that has been dormant during the pandemic.
The budget for CLT’s next granting process will be determined in January. The CLT family invites local charities to apply for funding, which resumes in the spring of 2022.
“The fact that we’re about to celebrate 25 years is a testament to the stewardship of our volunteers, our staff, and our donors,” Reid said. “It’s an exciting time for all of us.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Bring your gently used and cared-for items to Clothes Less Traveled, where your donations mean more. Clothes Less Traveled supports local charities by selling or recycling nearly everything that comes to the store. Donations are accepted at the back door of CLT Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. Visit CLT’s website for more information.
CLT welcomes individuals, students, and corporate, church, school, and civic to volunteer at the local thrift store. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in 1997, Clothes Less Traveled provides a caring, well-run thrift shop where donors, volunteers, shoppers, and employees feel welcome and appreciated, and proceeds are reinvested back into the community. The store is located at 459 Hwy. 74 South, next to Gil-Roy’s. Visit CLT’s website or email email@example.com for more information.