Back to School… Impact Thrift Style!

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Wait a minute… didn’t Summer just get started?

back to school image apple and composition bookIt may feel that way, but September is here, which means that Back to School shopping has begun!


The Fall 2012 color forecast is an unexpected mix of darks, brights, and neutrals. Think dark chocolate brown with a splash of pumpkin orange… titanium gray and honey gold…deep olive green with a punch of red… and THE color of the season, a rich and cozy shade of burgundy. Red plaids and tartans are classics, and bohemian prints in rich Autumn hues will be popular, as well as graphic black and white prints. Take a look at the Pantone Fall Fashion Color Report for 2012. These are the colors that you will see in stores.


Skinny jeans are here to stay, but many designers have adjusted their silhouettes for a better fit and greater comfort. Lots of layers featuring texture are a good way to transition from cool Fall mornings that turn into warm afternoons. The classic navy peacoat makes a comeback, and riding boots will be a perfect versatile and comfortable accessory for your Fall wardrobe.


Other key terms to keep in mind while Fall clothes shopping are faux fur accents (emphasis on faux), sweater dresses and wedge-heeled shoes. Sheath dresses and beautiful velvet and brocade fabrics are all here to stay. Glossy leather handbags in burgundy or maroon are trendy yet wearable. Anything embellished with mixed metals keeps the trend of a statement necklace going strong.

Take a look at our Back to School and Fall Thrift Fashion Show…


2… 4… 6… 8… Who Do We Appreciate?!

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Do you remember that teacher?

The one who showed you just how much fun reading or math could be?

The one that held you accountable?

The one who put you on a life-path that has shaped who you are today?

Frank Hartwell speaks to a class of Hatboro Horsham students during an Impact Live program

Few professionals touch as many people as teachers do or put so much of themselves and their own resources into their job.

At Impact Thrift Stores, we consider ourselves a “Community Partner” with the schools that neighbor our stores. We work with those schools in a variety of ways in an effort to provide resources and programs that might benefit the schools, students and teachers.

Some of you may recognize Frank Hartwell in the photo, Impact Thrift’s Education Director, and a retired teacher from Lower Merion High School.  “What most people don’t know is that Impact Thrift has always had a commitment to local schools. Many people who shop at our stores are unaware that Impact Thrift has an Education Program; which offers college/high school internships, community service, senior project opportunities for high school students, and the Impact LIVE Leadership Program,” commented Frank.

Teachers are unique and special. During the month of September, Teacher and School Staff Appreciation Month, Impact Thrift Stores would like to acknowledge the crucial role teachers play in making sure every child receives a quality education.

We would like to publicly thank current Teachers and School Staff for their unwavering passion, dedication and commitment to educating our future. In recognition of your hard work and the financial hardships you often endure, Impact Thrift is giving all teachers and school support staff a 25% discount on purchases at all of our 4 stores during the month of September. Simply present your current school ID at checkout to receive your discount.*


At checkout, you will be asked to register your school to win one of two grand prizes: a jaw dropping teacher’s lounge makeover or Impact Thrift will “play Santa” and deliver a truck load of toys to your school. The school with the most registrations wins! How much fun is that!?

To learn more about bringing the Impact LIVE program to your school, contact Tamika Miller at Impact Thrift Stores 215.699.4146, x 101

*Maximum discount $25. Not valid with other offers. Offer expires 9-29-12. 
Winning school will be notified during the week of 10-1-12.

Experience the Heart & Soul of Impact Thrift

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This group of college students from Gwynedd Mercy College volunteered at Impact Thrift Montgomeryville store on August 20, 2012Volunteer groups who spend the day at Impact Thrift Stores, have the unique opportunity to  learn the heart of our organization and develop a genuine community partnership. Volunteer experiences are  inspiring and can be transformational for both the staff members of Impact Thrift and the volunteers who serve…as was certainly the case the morning of August 20th, when Impact Thrift was joined by a group of college students from Gwynedd Mercy College.

The students from Gwynedd Mercy arrived promptly at 9 am, bright-eyed, enthusiastic , personable and ready to go! After receiving a volunteer orientation and tour of the Montgomeryville store from Jo Greenawalt, Director of Business Development, the group of 8  were in for a real treat.  They had the pleasure of sitting with Impact Thrift’s staff during their morning meeting, and hearing a heartfelt presentation from the directors of one of Impact Thrift’s supported charities, Chariots for Hope (a locally-based, non-profit organization located in Dresher Pa.)

The directors of Chariots for Hope held the staff and volunteer’s attention captive as they shared stories of  how they are changing the lives of hundreds of vulnerable, abandoned and orphaned children in Kenya, East Africa. Chariots shared first hand stories of the life changing work that they perform on a day-to-day basis; but furthermore, they impressed upon the staff and volunteers Impact Thrift’s instrumental role in going above and beyond to financially support their cause of  providing healthy living environments,  educational,  medical and emotional care to those children, through their network of Children’s Homes.

After hearing the presentation, Jen Fransen, Gwynedd Mercy’s Volunteer Coordinator, turned to me and said, “I’m glad that our group had the chance to sit in an hear from the Charity. It helps to put what we are doing here today into full perspective.” Looking at Jen, at that moment, I felt as thought I saw more than the smile in her eyes…I saw her heart open. In that moment, what Jen didn’t realize is that my heart was open as well. I felt very fortunate to host the team of loyal volunteers from Gwynedd Mercy who decided to spend their valuable time and energy to help us support a variety of charities, such as Chariots for Hope, that support families and children in crisis. The shared experience inspired us both, and  filled  us with a sense of  joy as our two organizations united as compassionate community partners.

Impact Thrift truly values each and every volunteer group that serves with us, and walks alongside us as we work hard every day to makes sure that we are doing the best we can to support families and children in crisis, not only in our neighboring communities, but abroad. A special thanks goes out to Jen Fransen, Julianna Feltwell, Migdalia Salles, Rachel Moots, Chris Pembroke, Chris Selke, John Davis, and Michael Czerwonka of Gwynedd Mercy College. An extended thanks goes out to Caleb Eckhardt, and the staff of Chariots for Hope for sharing their journey, as they defend the forgotten children in Africa.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of those who are most in need in your local communities, contact Tamika Miller, Community Outreach Coordinator, to arrange a day of service for your school, church, corporation or organization.

Good… Better… BEST!

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Coats… book bags… shoes… keys… Do these things tend to accumulate in one spot in your home? In your mud room or kitchen? Near the back door, front door or wherever the kids drop them when they get home from school?good white cabinet with some functionality

Would you call it organized chaos? Or maybe a little less than organized?

Your solution might be a simple piece of furniture that can be divided into sections for each family member to store their belongings. Recently, we came across this great classic piece of furniture that sparked an idea!


This white cabinet was spotted in our Montgomeryville store complete with shelves, upright dividers and coat hooks already in place. We added some tin containers to hold keys or loose items and keep them out of sight. Add a jacket, some shoes and you have a created a functional space which will serve the purpose.

Better white cabinet with pops of color and personalityBETTER:

The same white cabinet now takes on a little of your families personality with the addition of color and more personal elements… a throw rug, a dry erase memo board (which we created from an old picture frame btw… click here for the easy diy directions), and a cell phone holder. A pop of color and a potted plant bring warmth and charm to the space.


Just by adding a few more elements, your cabinet area turns into a fully functional zone bringing a bit of organized, stylized sanity to your living space! Additional containers such as baskets and decorative boxes will keep all of your families items organized. If you have room, add a chair or bench for taking shoes on and off.  Some family photos will pull it all together and add that personal touch.

If you have the space, time and a power tool or two, you might start with a home entertainment center. As so many folks are switching to flat screen TVs, our assortment of entertainment centers has increased exponentially.  They are available in a wide variety of styles, wood types and colors but are usually a little deeper than book shelves.  Plus… they often have the added feature of doors that can close!

Mother Nature’s Work of Art: The Butterfly

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**No butterflies were harmed in the creation of this project!**

yellow butterfly photo by Jill TarabarAny Summer evening sit quietly on your porch, your deck or in your back yard and watch the beauty of nature unfold around you. One of the most beautiful creatures fluttering by is the magnificent butterfly.  Small or large, their wings are individual bits of artwork that brighten our world. The question is, how do you capture this beauty and bring it indoors to enjoy all year round?

After finding some really beautiful (and realistic!) butterfly stickers at the craft store, and seeing some similar wall art with butterflies, we were inspired to create this unique piece that would look great in any room.

Start by gathering your supplies. We started with one pack of the beautiful butterflies you see pictured here. You will need a shadow box frame which is one that provides space between the backing board of the frame and the glass. This allows space for your butterflies and gives them a more 3 dimensional look. These frames are readily available at craft or framing stores and can often be found on our shelves at Impact Thrift!

supplies needed for framed butterfly art workYou will need some type of background material such as scrapbooking paper, wrapping paper or fabric.  We used a cotton fabric printed to look like birch bark. You will also need scissors, a craft glue and either spray adhesive or a glue stick. If you use fabric for your background, you will need a wide tape such as masking tape or duct tape.

Let’s get started!

Step 1:  Remove the cardboard backing from the frame.  Use this backing as a template and trace around the outside edge onto your background material. If you are using fabric, add one inch all around. If you are using paper, cut the same size as backing. Cut paper or fabric but don’t worry about getting the edges perfect, once it’s back in the frame the edge won’t show.

Step 2: Using spray adhesive or a glue stick, attach the background paper or fabric to the cardboard backing, smoothing out as you go. Paper background will fit to the edge of your backing. If you are using fabric, fold it neatly around the outer edge and adhere to the back of the cardboard with additional glue, using the wide tape on the back to hold the fabric in place.

Step 3:   Leaving the backing on the stickers, cut around each butterfly. If you printed butterflies images from your computer, carefully cut around each. Place them on the background until you achieve the look you want.

Step 4:   If using stickers, peel the backing from your butterfly stickers and carefully press them in place. If you used fabric for the background, dab a small amount of glue on the back of each sticker after removing the backing, following your layout. If using printed butterflies, carefully trim the butterfly and dab with a small amount of glue. Continue with each sticker one at a time.

Step 5:   Lay flat until the glue is dry.

Step 6:   Put the backing back in the frame, hang and enjoy!

Click here for printable instructions!


Impact LIVE Goes to Summer Camp!

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~by Tamika Miller

14 vocational students are participating in the Impact LIVE leadership program; which will provide Variety Club campers with a hands-on opportunity to plan, organize, advertise and carryout this community service project, while learning about the concepts of charity, reducing-re-using and recycling waste, and having a positive impact on the community. All of the items collected will be sold at Impact Thrift Stores and the money generated will be used to financially support a wide variety of locally-based charities.

Tamika, Variety Club staff and campers visit Montgomeryville Impact Thrift Stores

Tamika Miller (center), staff and campers from Variety Club Summer Camp program.

I wanted to personally let the staff and campers know just how much Impact Thrift cherishes this invaluable community partnership, so I kicked-off the Variety Club’s Impact LIVE campaign, by visiting the nationally acclaimed 80-acre facility of the Camp and Development Center, located in Worcester Township, Montgomery County.

In the midst of the heat wave of a 101 degree day, Marissa Tabak, Community Relations Coordinator for Variety, was gracious enough to take me on a tour of the entire campgrounds, to include 19 cabins, a large dining and kitchen facility, a medical building, an arts and crafts center, computer and A/V labs, a greenhouse, nature trails, an outdoor amphitheater, and an auditorium with stage.  As Variety Club serves children with special needs (and has done so continuously since 1949) all camp facilities are completely accessible to persons with disabilities.

Impact Thrift staff member Chris talks to the students

Impact Thrift Stores employee Chris Tuckhorn talks about his job in the Book Department.

As I toured the campus it was evident that Variety Club is devoted to providing a fun, safe experience for children with cognitive and physical disabilities through a variety of enriching recreational and educational programs. As I observed first-hand all of the great services that Variety Club provides, it made me extremely proud to have fostered such a wonderful community partnership. But, what I am most proud of is that the Variety Club’s Impact LIVE event is scheduled to take place during their annual Sunshine Games.


Variety Clubs campers

A second group of campers visited Impact Thrift Stores Montgomeryville on Monday, July 16.

The Annie Madden Sunshine Games are held in memory of a beloved counselor, Annie Madden, who passed away tragically in a car accident in the summer of 1999.  The Sunshine Games pay tribute to Annie by bringing together community members to interact alongside Variety’s campers in Olympic-style games.  It is my honor to unite with The Variety Club and celebrate summer by hosting a collection drive event during such an honored tradition.

  • When: Friday, July 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM
  • Where: Variety Club Camp & Developmental Center, 2950 Potshop Road, Worcester, PA 19490
  • For a list of sponsorship opportunities, please contact Marissa Tabak at (610) 366 x1100 or for more information. Visit their website,, to learn more about Variety Club and their focus on the Delaware Valley Region.

Click here to add this event to your calendar!

Share Your Message << Here >>

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finished chalkboard project in my kitchenChalkboards are SO useful!

They can work as a message board in the foyer, a menu planner for the kitchen, or a spot for the kids to get in touch with their inner VanGogh.  Chalk boards are practical and fun in so many places.

Nice big, framed chalk boards can be pricey though — up to $200 for a large framed version from a popular retailer (who will remain nameless but their initials are PB).

Fear not fellow DIYer!  We’ll show you how to make one for a fraction of the cost.

Did you know you can mix your own chalk board paint in ANY color?!  Ready-made chalk board paint is available at home improvement centers in a very limited range of colors, but we did some research and learned how to mix our own! Now you can use it to paint a chalk board or an entire wall (or room) in any color you choose.

You may want to consider chalk color when choosing your background color.  Sidewalk or chalkboard chalk tends to be light in color so you will want to paint your board darker. Besides regular chalk, you could use soft pastels available from art suppliers.  These are similar to chalk and are available in every color in the rainbow.

mix your chalkboard paint

Mix your paint and tile grout thoroughly, breaking up clumps.

Mixing your chalk board paint is easy.  

Start with flat-finish latex paint in any shade. Home improvement stores now sell a wide variety of colors of latex paint in sample sizes – just enough for a small project. Of course, if you choose to paint an entire wall, you will need more than just a sample size can. Un-Sanded (also called Non-Sanded) Grout is available at any home improvement center as well.  Even though it’s white powder, it won’t affect your original color.

We started with this old, faded, framed picture.

We found a large piece of framed artwork that was kind of faded and tired looking, but the frame is nice and chunky.  The important thing to note is that the surface of the artwork is completely smooth, because you’re going to paint right over it.

Let’s get started!

spray paint your frame a bright and cheerful color

We chose orange for the frame color to add a pop of color to our finished chalkboard.

1. Remove the art from the frame and set aside. Prep your work area with drop cloths, etc.

2. Lightly sand and wipe the frame.  Prime and paint in color desired.  We chose a bright happy shade of orange and used spray paint.

The surface of you picture or board must be very smooth as it becomes your chalkboard.

3. Mix your chalkboard paint. Pour 1 cup of paint into a container. Add 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout. Mix with a paint stirrer, carefully breaking up clumps. For best results, mix 1 cup at a time.

4. Lay your chalk board surface flat and using a small roller, smooth on an even coat of the chalkboard paint and allow to dry completely.

finished chalkboard  frame in our office

5. Using 150-grit sandpaper, lightly sand any uneven or rough spots and re-coat with chalkboard paint and repeat until you have 3-4 coats.

6. Allow to dry completely, then condition your new chalk board by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk over the entire surface.  Wipe away with a barely damp sponge.

Now you’re ready to share your message with the world!

Click here for a printable version of this tutorial!


Corporate Philanthropy and Community Involvement

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Liberty Mutual logoServe with Liberty Day at Impact Thrift Stores

This year Liberty Mutual employees across the country celebrated its 100th anniversary by serving the communities they call home. 6 awesome volunteers:  Lisa Crawford, Jennifer Sariego, Linda Shupard, Susan Porter, Sarah Lauro, and Mark Brown took the opportunity to serve their community by spending the day helping others in need at Impact Thrift Stores in Norristown PA. Projects coordinated by the Norristown store manager, Larry Leary, included working alongside staff members in the Bric-A-Brac and Clothing departments to sort, clean, price and stock shelves with items to be sold in the store.

Liberty Mutual staff working in our Bric-a-Brac department“It was definitely an eye opening experience to see what actually goes on behind the scenes, and to see all the customers just waiting for the “new” merchandise to hit the sales floor.” commented Lisa Crawford, Volunteer Coordinator and Customer Claims Rep Supervisor for Liberty Mutual.

As soon as the corporate offices of Liberty Mutual presented options for volunteer opportunities to its staff, Lisa Crawford immediately nominated Impact Thrift to make her volunteer contribution with. Over the years, Lisa has been a loyal supporter of Impact Thrift as a shopper and donor. It is because of Lisa’s love for Impact Thrift’s mission to support local charities and positively impact the community, that she was very instrumental in making this wonderful partnership possible.Liberty Mutual staff working side by side with Impact Thrift staff

After spending the morning with the enthusiastic and joyful volunteers it became very apparent that Liberty Mutual did not partner with Impact Thrift just as a means of jumping on the bandwagon of the latest fad in corporate social responsibility. Stocking Bric-a-Brac shelves at Norristown Impact Thrift StoresNor did they volunteer for some sort of recognition or to selfishly expand their corporate visibility. It was glaringly obvious that  Lisa, Jennifer, Linda, Susan, Sarah and Mark all served with Impact Thrift simply because strengthening the lives of families and children in crisis, and uplifting those who are most fragile in our communities is the right thing to do.

It is only with the help of volunteers such as the staff at Liberty Mutual that we have been able to be of such service to the charities we support. We extend our sincerest “Thank You”, and hope that Liberty Mutual would continue to extend their valuable support in the future.

Visit our website to learn more about how your company or organization can get involved.

Celebrate the Red, White and Blue!

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Patriotic tablescape incorporates a variety of items and stylesWhether you’re having a small family BBQ or a big neighborhood bash, we’ve got some great 4th of July party and decorating ideas for your festive celebration.

For a pretty table-scape, shop your own cabinets and closets first. Pull anything red, white or blue, large or small. Do you have an small blue bowl or your grandmother’s white serving platter?  Perhaps a red vase from Valentine’s Day flowers?  Mix and match plates of various sizes, a variety of glassware, and decorative items.   Red, blue, silver or gold chargers normally used in December can be brought out of summer hibernation and used for a gorgeous pop of color.

Next, shop your linen closet, scarf drawer or fabric stash (because we all have one of those… right…) Layer colors, prints and textures for a great look. Use your imagination when it comes to putting items together – a pretty gingham curtain panel can double as a tablecloth layer. Cloth napkins can add an additional splash of color. And don’t worry about the shade of color… items in various shades of red, blue and white add depth and interest to your table.

Still looking for that one item to fill a space or function? 

Wander the Bric-a-Brac isles at your favorite Impact Thrift Store with an open mind…. Look first at color, then function. Mix and match a variety of red, blue and clear glass goblets for a shabby chic look.  White plates with blue trim can be stacked with solid color plates or others with design – every place setting can have a different personality.  A wicker basket or two could be decorated with ribbon and candles. A flag draped picture frame can hold your menu or child’s art project. Our Domestics Department is full of great table cloths and runners, cloth napkins and more!  A flat bed sheet with the perfect print could become a table cloth or runner as well. In the Jewelry Department you might find some earrings or pins that could add a sparkle or accent.

And don’t forget the Electronics Department… old white computer cables braided together might make an interesting napkin ring… it could work…all about the red, white and blue

Next step – Create! Set your kids in motion with crayons, markers, paper – and some paint if you’re brave, making wonderful flags, pinwheels, centerpieces and place cards.

And don’t forget the food… the most important element of any bbq. Challenge yourself to fill your grocery cart with ONLY red, white and blue food items, then start cookin’! Layers of strawberries, blueberries and vanilla yogurt make a delicious and healthy dessert. Roll the edges of ice cream sandwiches in red, white and blue sprinkles.  Red candy apples are not just for Halloween! Serve them on a bed of blueberries for a very patriotic dessert. Hot dogs and hamburgers are red, chicken and fish are white so even your protein dishes will cooperate! Looking for more ideas… check out our Pinterest board all about the Red, White and Blue with lots of free craft tutorials and recipes for every patriotic occasion!

And don’t forget to… Have fun!

After your event, once clean up is complete, pack up those thrift store finds and re-donate!  We’ll accept all that you purchased here and more. Turn every gathering and event into a thrift decorating challenge… as much fun as the 4th of July!

The Next Generation of Super Heroes: Karl Leisch

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Impacting Lives…One Donation at a Time
~ by Tamika Miller 

Senior year in high school…a time when many students are self-absorbed with updating their Facebook status, ruling the twitter universe, and worrying about dates for the prom. At that age, life is theirs for the taking…the world is at their fingertips…at their disposal. After all, without mortgages, car notes, or a demanding 9 to 5, do they really have a care in the world? In most cases, most teenagers don’t look beyond the circumference of their blissful carefree existence. For most teenagers, it’s all about me…Me…ME! But, every once a while, when you least expect it, you come across a rare exception. I had the honor of meeting one of those rare exceptions…his name is Karl Leisch.

Karl Leisch, a senior at Hatboro Horsham High, reached out Impact Thrift to host a community collection drive at his church, St. Catherine of Siena, for his senior project. I agreed to be Karl’s mentor for the project, and from the very beginning, he was a pleasure to work with. He was always courteous, kind, considerate, personable, prompt, and followed through with every task.

Karl went above and beyond the normal efforts of promoting his collection drive by volunteering at the Montgomeryville store, creating a brochure and video (which he broadcasted at Hatboro High), canvasing the neighborhood with flyers, making church announcements and including his drive in the church newsletter. But what impressed me the most was that Karl organized the collection drive in loving memory of his late grandmother; who I’m sure would be very proud.

I have coordinated many collection drives and I must say that no one has ever filled the 12 foot Impact Thrift truck to its capacity with donations as Karl Leisch did. And when the truck began to overflow, he filled my car with donations as well! After the collection drive, Karl followed the Impact Thrift truck from the church in Horsham to the Feasterville store location, to help sort the donations, and prepare them to be sold.

I could go on and on about how phenomenal Karl Leisch is. But I will sum it up by saying, both personally and professionally, Karl is an absolute super hero. I attribute this to Karl because of his passion and ability to inspire others,  his integrity and very clear set of values, his commitment to community, and his selflessness towards helping others who are in need. With Karl’s help, Impact Thrift has seen many lives changed for the better!

Karl’s Inspiration:

“A year and a half ago my grandmother passed after battling health complications for years. This shook up my entire world and left us feeling empty. My grandmother’s house was left full of furniture, household appliances and clothes. Not knowing what to do with this material, we looked for a place to donate. Impact reached out to my family and ensured that they would accept all that they could. With a place like Impact, families can understand that they do not need to throw away belongings. They can be donated and given a second life to someone that is in need.”  ~Karl Leisch