Colfax Thrifty Grandmothers give back to the community

Shop serves Colfax for over 50 years

SAYDEE PHOTHIVONGSA, Evergreen news editor

Among the quaint Main Street storefronts of downtown Colfax sits the Thrifty Grandmother’s Shop, where a group of grannies have banded together to support their community. 

As a nonprofit group, all proceeds made at the store go back to the community or surrounding area. In fact, the Thrifty Grandmothers were able to donate over $51,000 to a variety of local organizations in 2021, said Gabriella Ball, a member of Colfax Thrifty Grandmothers club.  

The original Grandmother’s Club was first organized in 1956, although this club disbanded and reorganized again in 1959 as the Colfax Grandmother’s Club, eventually changing its name to the Colfax Thrifty Grandmothers Club in 1971, according to the Grandmother’s Club archives. 

Although donations were small at first, the club’s values have always reflected giving back to the community and lending a hand whenever they can, according to the archives. 

After having the shop in a few different locations, the club was able to secure its current spot on Main Street in 1988 and has been thriving since then, according to the archives.  

The shop has been thriving so much so that the Thrifty Grandmothers have been able to donate around $550,000 since 2010, Ball said. 

There are currently about 25 grandmothers in the club and while it is not a requirement to be a grandmother to be in this group, the members must be at least 60 years old and have a strong sense of maternal nature about them, Ball said.  

There is a common stereotype of old people not being capable or not having as much value as they once did because of their age and this group goes against that notion, said Chris Thompson, Colfax Thrifty Grandmother’s club president

“[Thrifty Grandmothers] gives these women an opportunity to be creative and useful, I just love that about it,” she said. “Got a lot of good vibes going on here.” 

The grandmas work very hard to sort, clean and set out the donations they get for the store, and then turn around and put the proceeds right back into the community, said Whitney Bond, Colfax Downtown Association executive director. 

“Chances are, if you’ve been into the grandma shop, you have seen those ladies working extremely hard and they are just such a valuable asset to our community,” she said. 

The Thrifty Grandmother’s Shop relies solely on donations from the community and surrounding area to supply the store, Thompson said.

The Colfax community has been deliberate in their efforts to send their donations to the Thrifty Grandmothers instead of other donation sites, Bond said.  

The grandmothers want to be respectful of the donors and the items they give by trying to find a home for every item that they can. Often, items not fit for the shop will be donated to Goodwill or other thrift stores in the region, Thompson said. 

It feels good to know that the shop isn’t just doing good for Colfax, but beyond their town as well, she said. 

The Thrifty Grandmothers are happy to help out any organization or person that may need it and donations depend on community requests for help or whom the grandmas know need the support, Thompson said. 

Not only did the grandmothers donate $9,000 in college scholarships for students in 2021, but they have also given to Colfax High School, the Colfax and Community Fund, the Whitman County Library, Palouse Care Network and the Albion Food Pantry, to name a few, according to Thompson and a log of donations given to the community kept by the grandmothers. 

In addition to the generous donations to the community, the Thrifty Grandmothers host a “Kids Shopping Day” every year where children between the ages of four and twelve can get a $10 gift certificate to the shop to buy Christmas gifts for their family, Thompson said. 

This year, Kids Shopping Day will be held on Wednesday, December 7. A registration form must be filled out to participate and each child will be escorted through the shop by a grandma, according to the registration form for the event. 

The Thrifty Grandmother’s Shop is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The shop is located at 116 N Main St, Colfax, WA.