The folks at Second Harvest Community Thrift Store in Sharpsburg want to do more than sell things to the community; they want to make it a better place.
Since opening a year ago, the nonprofit – which began as a jumble sale at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church – has welcomed people from all walks of life.
“There are good vibes,” says general manager Bonnie DeMotte. “It’s designed to be a truly welcoming and dignified experience whether you need or want to shop there. It’s become a second home for a lot of people, and we love it.
DeMotte, who lives in O’Hara Township and has five children enrolled in the Fox Chapel Area School District, calls the place “a first-class thrift store.”
An army of volunteers sort through donations that are dropped off and pick up small items for free in Sharpsburg and surrounding communities. There is a $30 fee for removing furniture and other large items. The service is available on Mondays and Wednesdays. Shop volunteers work two-hour shifts but often stay longer just to hang out.
Shoppers will find new and gently used clothing, furniture, electronics, appliances, books, records and CDs, toys and home decor. There are no bags at checkout, so bring your own to carry your treasures. Second Harvest operates on a high rotation model, with merchandise posted to Instagram and put on shelves as it arrives. DeMotte says the store is well stocked with clothes right now.
Along with great deals, shoppers will experience a clean, user-friendly environment with a modern point-of-sale system and a website that streamlines the donation and volunteering processes.
The board spent several years raising funds to purchase the property. The building, formerly a photo-finishing business, was renovated by Strip District-based Rothschild Doyno Collaborative. The space opened last March and will celebrate its Thirftaversary March 14-19 with door prizes, discounts, snacks and activities.
The 6,500 square foot facility now includes large windows, a meeting area and a rooftop solar panel. There is also a park out front which is designed to manage storm water and provide public green space. In mid-April or May, the outdoor space will have two solar-powered charging stations where people can charge their cell phones.
Artist Sarah Cohen was commissioned by the council to create a large mosaic to be installed on the building. The New Jersey native moved to Pittsburgh in 2015 to work as a technical apprentice at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. After a year, Cohen began working in the center’s administrative office and eventually opened his own business, PetalVision Glass at the Union Project in Highland Park.
With help from Sharpsburg residents and Second Harvest volunteers, Cohen assembles the 7½ by 8½ foot artwork using thousands of tiny tessera mosaic tiles, which were donated by Paul Wissmach Glass Co. of West Virginia. The mosaic design features a sun and flowers.
Cohen is excited to add her creative touch to the economically diverse neighborhood, which is becoming a hub for public art and activism.
Second Harvest offers more than material goods. After a successful first year, the organization donated $20,000 to area charities through its Community Development Grant Program, including $10,000 to Fox Families Care, $2,000 to St Vincent de Paul Food Pantry and $1,000 to Backpack for Hunger.
“I think it’s a testament to how the community has embraced the whole concept,” DeMotte says. “We work very hard to provide people with an atmosphere where you can come in and talk. Especially after Covid, it’s extremely rewarding to do work that benefits the community.
Second Harvest is located at 624 Clay St. in Sharpsburg. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
For more on local thrift stores, read 31 of the Best Places to Go Vintage and Thrift Shopping in Pittsburgh.