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MCALISTERS KEEP THE THRIFT MERCHANDISE MOVING

By Marjorie Woodfin

Pilot staff writer

Those who have been interested in the world of fashion over the years might well have come to the conclusion that the name of the newest thrift store in Brookings, Sacs Thrift Avenue, is a clever play on the name of the well-known purveyors of fashion, Saks Fifth Avenue.

However, they would be wrong. According to owners James and Marilyn McCalister, the name was chosen because most of the merchandise to be sold in the store will come from Sacramento and the area around San Francisco.

James explained that his family has been involved in a business shipping containers of overstock clothing to Africa and India, and vintage clothing to Japan since the 1970s. James said that he has been in the business since 1995. "We ship four containers a month to Africa, each holding 45,000 pounds," he explained.

They are also deeply involved in vintage clothing and antiques, and participate in the giant monthly sales held at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. "We ship vintage clothing abroad, mostly to Japan. Japanese teens love American clothes from the 70s and 80s," he said.

When asked how they ended up in Brookings this January, Marilyn explained, "We visited here 20 years ago and we loved it. I always said we would retire here."

After her brother, Tim Sturgeon, moved to Brookings two years ago he encouraged them to move up and open a thrift store. She said that he told them, "This town needs a store like this."

They believed him and decided not to wait for retirement before moving, and here they are. "We want to keep the prices really low to bless the community," Marilyn said." We have a heart for hurting women and children." She emphasized that they want to work with and complement the existing resale stores in Brookings-Harbor, and in no way cause them any loss of business.

In fact, they actually offer a service to other resale stores and organizations in the community, shipping unsold merchandise to Sacramento to be shipped abroad. "We take leftover stuff from the hospice sale, the mission, and the humane society and others and truck it to Sacramento and bale it up and ship it out," Marilyn said.

She said that the pickup service saves the mission $185 a month. Mission director Chuck Fidroeff said, "We used to have to drive it all the way down to Eureka and pay to leave it, and they take it to their big warehouse in Sacramento and ship it to Africa. That's their mission."

To accommodate their multiple activities, the McCalisters have a huge warehouse at the old McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento from which they distribute overstock and vintage clothing and antiques.

Their Chetco Avenue shop has taken off in a hurry. Brookings-Harbor High School senior Nicole Cuoco was helping a young customer, who said as his mother purchased a bright Hawaiian shirt for him, "I love this shirt."

Marilyn said, "We never thought we'd need help so soon, but we've been so busy we had to hire her in our third week."

The McCalisters have been married for 26 years. Marilyn said about her husband's many activities, "He always finds niches to fill."

From the number of customers shopping in the store, it appears that they are indeed filling a niche in Brookings with their Sacs Thrift Avenue shop.

"We want to benefit the community," Marilyn said, adding, "When you help other people, it just comes back to you."

The shop at 704 Chetco Ave. is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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