Colfax, Wash. – What the world needs right now is more grandmas, especially the kind of grandmas they have in Colfax. The next time you are tempted to just drive through Colfax – along with 10,000 other drivers every day – slow down and look for a secondhand store nestled on the ground floor of one of the stately old buildings on Main Street.
That’s where you will find The Thrifty Grandmothers Thrift Store, which sells donated clothes, kitchen stuff, glass and lamps, and smaller pieces of furniture.
“Our shop is in what used to be the Elk Drugstore,” said Bonnie Smith, one of the volunteer grandmas. “We have a dozen pretty active volunteer ladies who take care of the store – and probably three times as many members.”
What makes this shop so special is what it does for the Colfax and greater Whitman County community: once rent is paid, every single penny it makes goes back to the community as grants and direct support. Last year, that amounted to $40,000.
“It may not seem like a lot of money by today’s standards,” Smith said, “but that’s a lot of $1.50 jeans and 50 cent shirts.”
The $40,000 includes ten $1,000 grants to graduating seniors from Whitman County.
“We also help if there is an emergency. We will pay a person’s rent if they need that,” Smith said, adding that she loves reading the letters from the seniors. “They have just worked so hard, and some have been through so much – it just brings tears to your eyes.”
Another regular donation is $5,000 annually to the Colfax Community Foundation, which supports events and the work of nonprofits in Colfax.
Smith said The Grannies - as they affectionally call themselves – started back in the 1950s and the store was in different locations and backrooms until it moved into the old drugstore.
“It used to be that you had to be a grandmother to join, but now you just have to be 65 years or older,” Smith said. “We have a real sense of camaraderie. We love and support one another.” The Grannies are open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Combine your Colfax stop with lunch at the Top Notch Café (210 N. Main St) – a longtime local favorite. This classic diner serves a killer breakfast and all your traditional diner stables including “The World’s Best Burger!!” as it says on the sign.
If the weather is nice, take a stroll down to the Perkins House (623 N. Perkins Ave) and admire the beautiful craftsmanship that went into building this Victorian home in 1886. The builder, J.A. Perkins, is considered one of the founders of Colfax. Some tours are available depending on COVID restrictions.
We love road trips here at Local Treasures with Pia – please let us know if you have a good destination, big or small, in the Inland Northwest and we will check it out. Send emails to CorpComm@AvistaCorp.com.