Local thrift store raises millions to support LGBT community

Diversity Thrift sells a variety of items including clothing, furniture and musical instruments. Photo by Helen Stoddard.

Sarah King
Staff Writer

The bright pink-and-rainbow painted building perched on Sherwood Avenue is hard to miss, but Diversity Thrift does more for the community than offer a change of scenery. By selling discounted items, the store has raised millions to support Richmond’s LGBT community.

Diversity opened in 2000 to aid the Richmond Gay Community Foundation by creating a place where supporters could donate household items to the store. The proceeds would be passed back to the foundation to serve the LGBT community directly. In 14 years, Diversity Thrift has raised more than $5 million, with more than 80 percent of profits going to charities.

“I absolutely love the store,” said advertising major Jada Carpenter.  “The staff are always so helpful, and I always end up leaving with more than I planned on buying because they have so much to offer.  Plus I know everything goes to a cause I support.”

Richmond shoppers have voted the 15,000-square-foot store as one of the best thrift stores in the city, according to Style Weekly and Richmond Magazine. Diversity accepts donated items including furniture in good condition, clean clothes, shoes, linens, sheets and bedding, sofas without tears, stains or holes, frames and art, jewelry, musical instruments, bed frames and clean and working appliances.

Diversity has an entire room dedicated to home and office furniture including sofas, chairs, tables, desks, dining sets, dressers, drawers and bed sets. The store also sells everything from clothing and jewelry to artwork at bargain prices.

“The prices are awesome and they have so much selection. I found a lot of the furniture for my place at Diversity,” said English major Christina Epperson. “I have a lot of friends who have done community service hours or volunteered there too.”

Volunteers are welcome at the store any day of the week and the staff is flexible with schedules, especially for students who are looking to complete community service hours.

“Diversity is awesome because it’s huge and everything is bargain prices,” said biology major Josh Kim. “Last time I went in they had two people dressed up as Easter bunnies handing out candy — it was great. Who doesn’t like bargains, bunnies or candy?”

Diversity also hosts bingo games on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings and evenings where participants have the opportunity to win cash. Revenue from the cost of admission goes toward maintaining the non-profit or the Gay Community Foundation.

The shop is open for business Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and accepts donations every day of the week. Donation pick-ups are free of charge.

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