‘The Nordstrom of thrift shops’

Pat Tribby enjoys volunteering at Grannies’ Attic. One of her jobs is to price items before they go out on the thrift store’s floor for sale. (Joan Cronk/Senior Scene)
Pat Tribby enjoys volunteering at Grannies’ Attic. One of her jobs is to price items before they go out on the thrift store’s floor for sale. (Joan Cronk/Senior Scene)

When customers enter Grannies’ Attic Thrift Store in Puyallup, they are struck immediately with the cleanliness of the store and the friendliness of the all-volunteer staff.
“They call us the Nordstrom of gift shops,” said Pam Scholer, a longtime volunteer at Grannie’s.
Grannies’ Attic falls under Celebrate Seniority, a MultiCare Health System member program of education and outreach that has three focuses for adults 55 and better – volunteerism, healthy living and social events, said Deborah Gurney, MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital Celebrate Seniority supervisor.
Grannies’ Attic supervisor Kat Boyle said she has a staff of 75 volunteers. The store, which is open six days a week, has donated over $1.2 million to the Puyallup hospital’s programs and patients. The reason the store is so successful, said Boyle, is “it has a grannies’ touch.”
“When you walk in, you are greeted by a grannie who will ask what you are looking for,” she said.
Boyle has been in her position at Grannies’ for eight years and said, “This is the least glamorous job I’ve ever had, but it is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Saying she was looking for something that would give her life focus and meaning, she added, “I’m edified daily because I work with the greatest generation and certainly the generation work ethic. That work ethic will never be duplicated.”
Eighty-six year old volunteer Pat Tribby has been working at Grannies’ for seven years. Most of the volunteers are women, and all are 55 and up.
After her husband passed away, Tribby said she thought volunteering “would be a good thing to do. I love the fact that I’m doing some good.”
Tribby, who prices items and works the floor, volunteers two mornings a week for a four-hour shift.
Scholer is the head ironing person and lead cashier and takes great pride in her work. She has been volunteering for 11 years, four days a week. “I love it here, it is my second home,” she said
Two days a week, Scholer stands at the ironing board, making sure all clothing items are neatly pressed before going on the floor for sale.
“We go through everything, and if it is wrinkled, we iron it,” she said.
Jeanne Spann is a floater and moves around the store, chatting with everyone.
“I enjoy visiting with people,” she said, adding that she also picks up empty hangers, straightens items for sale and relieves the cashiers. “The enthusiasm at Grannies’ is very healing.”
Volunteers are flexible about filling in for each other, and they say their work environment is like one big family.
Boyle appreciates each and every volunteer.
“Most days I wish I could just sit at the feet of my volunteers and glean from their experience and knowledge. They work hard and selflessly with such empathy and compassion for those we serve, like the children of CTU (children’s therapy unit),” she said.
Grannies’ has pledged $350,000 to the CTU endowment, making sure that no child is ever turned away.
“Every penny we make goes right back into the community,” she said.
The real difference in Grannie’s, said Boyle, is the store’s price point.
“We literally do it 50 cents at a time. Our average sales are low, and when we say we’ve donated $1.2 million, it is 50 cents at a time,” she said.
Boyle said she couldn’t do her job without her volunteers.
“It is a herculean effort to run this store. Every one of us does our very best. When you work alongside the grannies, they know the quality of work and the value of a hard day’s work. They set the bar very high,” she said.