Thrift shop offers families steep discounts

Cannon Connections photo: Argen Duncan Apryl Nenortas, whose husband is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, and her cousin, Andrew Kirschbaum, look through a rack of clothes at the Cannon Spouses Club Thrift Shop. The shop has a variety of items.

By Argen Duncan: Cannon Connections

Mess dress for $15. Civil War collector’s plates. New paperback books. Brand-name children’s clothes.

The Cannon Spouses Club Thrift Shop has it all and then some. The store has recently re-established regular hours after moving last summer.

Customer Mike Hess, who retired after 22 years with the U.S. Air Force, said he was trying to visit the shop regularly.

“You never know what treasure you’re going to find,” he said.

Thrift shop manager Nancy Lavallee said the store raises money for charities the spouses club supports, such as the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home and retirement homes. It also functions as the Airmen’s Attic, from which enlisted personnel ranking up through staff sergeant can take a certain amount of household and uniform items per month for free.

People can also sell unwanted possessions on a consignment basis at the store and keep 80 percent of the proceeds.

The store receives a lot of donations as well, Lavallee said.

For safety and health reasons, she refuses some things, including lethal weapons, underwear, pillows and used toiletries.

“It’s a great service, not only for people to sell things, but for people to buy things,” Lavallee said.

For example, mess dress formal uniforms are free for ranks of staff sergeant and below, and $15 for other personnel. The uniforms would cost at least $200 new.

People moving onto base can also buy inexpensive household items while they wait for theirs to arrive.

As the word has spread, Lavallee said, business has picked up. A handful of customers come every time the shop opens, and other people visit to shop casually or look for something specific.

Lavallee operates the shop with one other Cannon spouse, Nancy Davis. Neither is paid.

“We’re trying to get more volunteers to come in — we could open more hours,” Lavallee said.

Anyone with access to Cannon Air Force Base can volunteer.

“The thrift store and the Airmen’s Attic are critical to any base’s well-being,” said customer Andrew Kirschbaum, who served on active duty in the Air Force for 10 years. “It’s a place people can go and live on a budget.”

Kirschbaum, who was visiting his cousin stationed at Cannon, said base thrift stores always had quality items.

On another note, Lavallee said the thrift store is holding a free fashion show at 11:30 a.m. April 21 at the Landing.

“Come see what we have, because we do have some nice designer clothes in good condition,” she said.