Portland thrift store's cards of hope brighten day for shoppers

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PORTLAND — In a simple, yet heartfelt way, the miniature cards bearing inspirational messages being given out to customers at  Threads of Hope thrift stores are designed to lift spirits and brighten days.

“It’s a friendly little token that puts a smile on their face” and provides encouragement, said Amanda Fisher, manager of the Portland store in the Union Station Plaza. “They’ve gone over really well and we’re going through them faster than we thought we would.”

The cards – small square pieces of cardboard printed with various insightful quotes on a colorful background –are also being handed out at the register in the Sanford store, Fisher said.

“People like to collect all the different ones and many customers also ask if they can take one for a friend,” Fisher said. Her personal favorite is a bright yellow card that says: “Live by the Sun, Love by the Moon.”

The Threads of Hope stores are operated by Catholic Charities Maine. Proceeds from all sales go toward the agency’s outreach programs, which are aimed at “bringing help and hope to Maine’s most vulnerable” people, according to its website.

Like many thrift stores, Threads of Hope sells gently used clothing, accessories, furniture and home goods, “but because it’s a program of Catholic Charities Maine, the store was looking to give a bit more back to its customers,” the organization said in a press release.

“From the senior citizens who come for the socializing as much as the shopping, to the college students looking to score vintage threads, to the DIYers and those savvy shoppers just looking for a bargain, the cards have been a big hit across the board,” the release said.

“Our customers just love them,” Fisher added. “I (often) see them digging through the basket to find a new message. Down the road, we plan to make different batches,” including cards that celebrate holidays or the seasons.

Kathy Mockler, public relations director for Catholic Charities Maine, said the cards, which debuted in mid-May, were created by the communications team in the central office. Fisher said the team “helped us choose quotes and then created the fun and varied backgrounds for them.”

Choosing the quotes was a “team effort of just sharing favorites and researching to find inspirational quotes that really demonstrate our core values,” she said. “Whenever a customer, or even a staff member, reads the message on one of these simple cards … it may change how they feel or view their day. It just embodies what our agency is all about.”

Fisher has been managing the Portland store for more than a year and said what she most enjoys about Threads of Hope is, “it’s different every day.” She also likes that the store is a nonprofit “with all the money going to programs that really help people right here in Maine.”

“We’ve been so happy to see how something so simple can bring joy to someone’s day,” Fisher said. “And, what’s even better, is that a lot of our customers dig through the basket and then take the perfect one to share with someone else.”

The agency is also encouraging people to share their favorite inspirational messages. 

“Please post it to our Facebook page and, who knows, it might just (pop up) in our next printing,” Fisher said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Amanda Fisher, manager of the Threads of Hope thrift store in Portland’s Union Station Plaza, reads one of the inspirational cards the shop is now giving out to customers as a way to lift their spirits.

The quotes on these brightly colored cards are designed to put a smile on the face of customers at the Threads of Hope thrift store in Portland. The cards, which debuted in mid-May, are a big hit and “our customers just love them,” said store manager Amanda Fisher.

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