If budget-friendly, high-end apparel and home decor are your fondest fantasies, then Community Projects (CP), Inc. is your dream come true. This local philanthropic organization will be offering affordable glam and holiday cheer as the centerpieces of their iconic and upcoming annual sales extravaganzas “Puttin’ On the Glitz” and “Treasures of Christmas Past.”
These events have become popular traditions and even vacation destinations for the savvy shopper. “People come here from far and near,” said Gaylon Kastner, Glitz chairwoman. “ One woman travels from Portland, Oregon every year for the Glitz event. “They know it is all first -come, first-served. While there is something for everyone at both of these events, things can happen fast and be crazy at times.”
This fuels the early arrivals of the customers who often begin lining up outside the shop around 7 a.m., according to Ginny Mosher, Treasures co-chairwoman.
“By the time we open the doors for both events, the line of customers wraps around the block,” Sharon Behlmer, Treasures co-chairwoman, added.
Once these throngs enter CP’s downtown Napa thrift shop, they are treated to a totally transformed space. For the Oct. 1 Glitz event, the shop will reflect the glamour of Hollywood’s “Golden Era.” It will become a holiday wonderland for the Nov. 5 and 6 Treasures of Christmas Past sale.
Over the years, these bargain hunters have generated significant revenue for CP, Kastner said, “Last year the one-day Glitz event netted almost $30,000. My goal for this 20th anniversary Glitz event is to hit or, better yet, surpass $30,000.”
The total for the 2015 two-day Treasures event was about $28,000. Diana Gerig, the CP Board’s Specialty Groups officer, said. “Remember, all of these funds go back to the Napa County community in the form of CP monetary scholarships and awards.”
For the mutual benefit of both the customer and CP, the Thrift Shop has new cash registers that now accept most major credit and debit cards.
The CP volunteers devote thousands of hours and an entire year to preparing for these events. “I can’t believe how hard the Glitz committee - Judy Humphrey, Diane Parker and Anne Schmitz - work,” said Kastner. They and the Treasures volunteers sort through every donation of goods to select and then reserve the choicest of items, including designer clothing and accessories just for these events.
“We select only the best quality items that are either new or very gently used for the Treasures event,” said Behlmer.
Kastner said that in addition to the costume jewelry,” there are also pieces of fine jewelry - gems, gold and silver. The shoppers just love the jewelry.”
The designer labels vary from year to year. “This year, there are several St. Johns pieces and even some Coco Chanel. For the designer footwear fancier, we have Prada, Steve Madden plus Coach brand purses.” Kastner said, “Our prices for both of these events can’t be beat. For example, the leather gloves start at $2.50 a pair.
“After 20 years, the Glitz event has drawn retail shop owners such as two women who own a clothing store in Mill Valley. It’s fine with us if they resell whatever they have purchased from us.”
In addition to women’s fashions, the Glitz event offers men’s and children’s apparel. “We will have men’s tuxedos for under $30 plus cummerbunds, formal wear shirts and ties. We’ll also have lots of two- and three-piece men’s suits, including designer suits as well as hats to jewelry for men,” Kastner said. “For children, there will be lots of party dresses.”
The Glitz merchandise also includes vintage, and possible even antique, clothing, accessories and jewelry. Some of these older pieces are fur stoles, jackets and coats. These furs can cost up to $500, although one dyed mink stole has been priced at $79. Kastner added, “A few years ago, a woman from Hong Kong came to Napa solely for the Glitz event furs. She took them back to Hong Kong where they were repurposed into collars, trims and such for new apparel.”
“We are the queens of recycling,” Moser said. “CP volunteers sort through endless donations of goods given to us by the community to stock our thrift shop and special sales events. These items and their sales generate funds that are ultimately awarded to Napa County nonprofits organizations.”
Behlmer said, “It is amazing just how much holiday merchandise we receive year-round. There are lots and lots of toys - stuffed animals, dolls, baby and building blocks, books, games, craft sets and so much more. And, they are all in good or better condition. While it’s lots of hard work, it is incredibly satisfying as it gives and adds a greater quality of life to many local lives.”
Mosher said, “I remember one couple who came in to buy toys as Christmas gifts for their children. The woman began to cry because if it wasn’t for CP and its Treasures’ low prices, her children would not have received any Christmas gifts.”
For about 16 years, the Treasures event has helped fulfill many holiday wish lists. While the merchandise varies from year to year, there is always an abundance of holiday decorative items for not only Christmas but also Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Merchandise this year will include ornaments, wreaths, lights, Nativity sets, linens, aprons and centerpieces.
About the lights, they are all tested before they’re put out for sale.” Behlmer said. “In fact, every item is inspected to insure it is a quality item.”
The Treasures sale will include "a Christmas tree farm of artificial trees," Mosher said. "They are all set up so the customer can see what they really look like. Then our local high school student volunteers will disassemble and pack up the tree for the customer as well as carry it out to their vehicle. It is a lot of fun.”
Most of the Treasures merchandise does not require assembly, and many are wrapped and finished with ribbons and bows. “We present them so they can be immediately given as a gift,” said Behlmer. For those who like to wrap their own gifts, Treasures will offer plenty of inexpensive papers and bows to dress up those packages. There will also be an ample supply of holiday cards at the event.
To add a bit of patina or a traditional feel to one's holiday table, Treasures will feature silver service sets and pieces. Each of these items have been polished and buffed by a CP volunteer. “We have so many talented ladies. They are an amazing group of women who make every Treasures item special,” said Gerig.
While Treasures requires hard work and countless hours from CP volunteers, the event has helped put them in a holiday mood, too.
“It is always fun to watch a group of longtime friends revive their inner child. Inspired by the holiday spirit of the Treasures event, they laugh and giggle, oh and ah as they discover the perfect gift for their other friends, families and one another,” Mosher said. “It always puts a smile on my face.”