The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Thrift Store

I knew almost immediately where I wanted to go for this assignment. The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Thrift Store is on Monticello, roughly three minutes from where I live and I had never been, nor ever visited the shopping center in which it exists. Surrounded by a Big Lots, a small nail salon, a fabric store, among several other small businesses, the shopping center looks as if its one of the older ones in the Williamsburg area. The building looks fairly run-down and I couldn’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia, wondering what the building looked like in its prime.

No, it’s not as old as the buildings of Colonial Williamsburg and the at times stunning architecture of Duke of Gloucester Street, but rather, a brick strip mall, with storefront windows that seemed yellowed with age. I’ve passed by it whenever I’m on my way to Newtown, or headed farther down Monticello. As a student at the College, I’ve spent most of my time on the campus, or just outside within Colonial Williamsburg. When I drive by this particular shopping center, there is a stop light entering it and when I have to stop, I turn my head and see the scattered cars, the old building, the birds walking in the parking lot. For some unknown reason, I was drawn to the strip mall and pushed away at the same time.

The buzzing of the fluorescent lights when I walked in was the first thing I noticed. The room was sensory overload. Rows of clothing in front of me and a fair number of people walking around me to get to a faded concert T-shirt, an old corduroy blazer, those sparkle nylons. I was momentarily disoriented, trying to soak in my surroundings. Most businesses I had entered in Williamsburg were busy, as it is a touristy area, but this was different. The room wasn’t lit as nicely as the Williams Sonoma on DoG St. nor had the warmth of the other shops in Merchants Square. But people knew each other in a way I hadn’t seen before in Williamsburg. I heard a woman ask a man about his son. I heard two elderly ladies discuss a church group. I watched a little girl giggle as she twirled in a too-big gown. I suddenly felt completely at ease as I browsed the shoes and trinkets in the rear corner of the store and observed what was around me.

I had been in Goodwill before, I had been in other thrift stores before, but this was new to me. People knew each other here. It was different from the families at the Outlets, or in Colonial Williamsburg. It was different from the students on campus at the Grind, or Aromas. These people were locals. This was there home. What did that mean to me? I briefly felt like an outsider. “Ma’am, would you like to try that on?” I was gripping a cream colored blazer from Talbots that I couldn’t believe was priced at $5.

“Sure.”

One light flickered above me as I moved to the changing room – a small corner about the size of a closet with a swinging door and with a tiny, silver sliding lock. I listened to the conversation around me. Why had I never been here before? Was it because I had never heard of my friends talk of this place? Was it because I did not like the way the buildings looked compared to those of Newtown, or Colonial Williamsburg? Was it because of my personal bias, and the relatively affluent area I was raised? I shuddered at the thought. I am so open-minded, I thought!

And yet.

I exited the dressing room to continue walking around the store. After several loops around the mens trousers, I figured I should check out. The people working couldn’t have been nicer. The people around me in the store were completely comfortable with each other and their surroundings. I should be too, right? I realized I was sweating when I gave my five dollars to the gentleman behind the counter.

I asked about their charity, and how much of the proceeds go to it. Usually a little more skeptic than is probably good for me, I was expecting a response like: “Oh, we work hard to get as much as we can to charity, but some goes to here, or there…”

“100%.”

To my relief, the cashier did not laugh at my jaw, which most definitely on the floor. With locations in Virginia, North and South Carolina, CHKD (Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters) are a project of the Norfolk City Union of The King’s Daughters, the founding organization of Children’s Hospital. The stores provide a much needed, inexpensive opportunity for shopping.

I came home and did a little more research after my experience. I found out that their stores bring in more than $2.5 million to CHKD in a single year. Community support helps CHKD provide quality health care to our community children, who made more than 600,000 visits to CHKD Health System providers last year.   I was so impressed with this organization, and can’t believe it took me three years to venture over to a wonderful store, only three minutes from my front doorstep.

For more information visit:  http://www.chkd.org/giving/thrift/


About

The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

Add Users

If you want to add yourself to this blog, please log in.