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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Maggie’s Thrift has social change in store

Sarah Keating

Sarah Keating at Maggie's Thrift Shop. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Local families, individuals, groups and businesses have been generous with contributions to Phoenix-based Maggie’s Place, a community of homes offering support and hospitality to pregnant women who are homeless or alone. Countless boxes and truckloads of diapers, clothing, toys, books, household items and furniture have been donated over the years.

Sarah Keating served with live-in staff at both the Michael House in Glendale and the Elizabeth House in Tempe for two years. When she saw that donations the homes or departing moms weren’t able to use were passed along to other non-profits, she recalls wishing they could sell some of the donations they received to better benefit their moms.

As Keating was completing her commitment at Maggie’s Place in January 2011, co-founder and Executive Director Mary Peterson offered her a new position: to write a business plan, then open and manage Maggie’s Thrift Shop. The new venture would serve as a social enterprise project—creating job-training opportunities for guests, revenue for programs and a method for keeping the value of excess donations within the Maggie’s Place community.

Maggie's Place thrift store Phoenix

Sarah Keating holds a colorful gown for sale at the store. Photo by Daniel Friedman

Nine months later, on Sept. 30, 2011, Maggie’s Thrift Shop held its grand opening. Keating was excited. “Most of our moms have never held a paying job,” she says. “We’ve received so many wonderful donations. It made perfect sense for us to open a thrift shop.”

Mothers submit a resume and staff recommendation to apply to work at the shop. They also must complete a three-day program through Phoenix-based nonprofit Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, where resume writing and job interviewing skills are taught.

Gabbie (last name withheld upon request) was the first Maggie’s Place mom to complete the job-training program at Maggie’s Thrift. “I didn’t even mind the 90-minute bus ride each way,” she says. “I loved the experience of meeting new people and the fast pace of the shop. I enjoyed sorting through the donations.”

She learned about customer service, merchandising, staging product displays and basic management. She also gained confidence. “I couldn’t believe that the staff trusted me with important decisions and that they listened to my ideas,” she says. “That made me feel so good.” Gabbie’s first day was during the grand opening. She remained until the end of November, when her doctor ordered bed rest because of complications with her pregnancy. (She later gave birth to a healthy baby girl.)

Maggie’s Thrift is bright, clean and cheerful and has the feel of a boutique. Clothing, accessories, jewelry, household items, knickknacks, electronics and furniture are staged throughout several rooms. There are monthly specials.

Volunteers assist Keating and Assistant Manager Richelle Meiss with routine duties and daily operations. One dedicated volunteer commits to two eight-hour shifts per week. Some come as individuals or groups to sort and clean donations. Others are involved with pricing or the general operations of the shop. All are appreciated. “We couldn’t run this shop without our volunteers,” says Keating.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every once in awhile we revisit stories we’ve covered in the past. Judy Davis first wrote about Maggie’s Place in November 2009. Read “Maggie’s Place: Building Communities of Hope.”

Maggie’s Thrift

1517 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix
602-252-1178 •

Store hours: 10am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat

Donations: Drop off donations at the store during business hours. Pickup for large furniture items may be scheduled Monday through Friday. Call at least 24 hours in advance.

Items that are needed (in good condition): clothing (men’s, women’s and children’s), kitchen items, furniture, jewelry, electronics, shoes and accessories, household items, grocery bags. Maggie’s Thrift does not sell baby items (under 12 months) at the store. Baby items should be taken to one of the Maggie’s Place homes.

Maggie’s Place

  • Operates four homes of hospitality for pregnant women who are alone or on the streets—three in the greater Phoenix area and one in Cleveland.
  • Since opening the doors of the Magdalene House in Phoenix in May 2000, the homes have welcomed 480 expectant mothers.
  • The homes provide for the immediate physical and emotional needs of the mothers including shelter, food, clothing and a supportive environment. Secondly, they connect the pregnant woman to appropriate agencies and resources: prenatal care, health insurance, low-cost housing and education programs.
  • The moms are guests until their babies are six months old as they work toward independent living. 24/7 help and guidance from live-in staff and many volunteers nurtures and supports the mother’s efforts.
  • Monetary donations are always needed and welcome.
  • Learn more at
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Judy Milas Davis, R.D.

Judy Milas Davis, R.D., of Phoenix, is the mother of Ben and Mandy.

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