Marine Thrift Shop provides convenient, affordable shopping to SOFA members
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Tucked into a quiet corner of the base lies a hidden gem full of housewares, clothing, uniform items and other essentials for families stationed on Okinawa.
The Marine Thrift Shop is a non-profit organization that provides an affordable place for service members and families to shop for their household needs and is located aboard Camp Foster in Building 5691.
“We are here to have quality items for families at affordable prices,” said Rennie, the thrift shop operations manager. “Along with regular merchandise, active duty service members can receive up to five uniform items per month for free. All they have to do is pick out their items and show their ID card.”
In addition to affordable merchandise, the thrift shop provides funding for the military community on Okinawa.
“We are here for the community,” said Rennie, an Orange, Vermont, native. “All extra funds are directed to applicants from organizations such as the Kubasaki High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, and other community assets. We are developed for the community and by the community.”
The thrift store accepts donations and allows service members and families to shop brands that may not be available on Okinawa.
“The thrift store provides great brands and variety that aren’t necessarily available out here on Okinawa at off-base stores,” said Kelsey Forbes, a chairman of volunteers at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and frequent shopper at the thrift shop. “It also provides some familiarity for people who are new to the island and helps them feel more at home.”
The thrift shop’s brand variety accompanies competitive prices for all its shoppers.
“I am usually an inexpensive shopper,” said Katrina Swartout, a Carmel, Indiana, native. “I don’t usually buy name brand clothing and accessories, but I was able to buy a purse here for five dollars that would have easily cost $200 at a regular store.”
The inventory and staffing of the store is based on community support in the form of donations and volunteers who sort and price donated items.
“The shopping experience here is very good, because it is clean and organized and everyone is very professional,” said Forbes, a Fort Morgan, Colorado, native. “The personnel here check all the merchandise and test out all of the electronics, so if you shop here, you can be confident that you will be taking home quality products. I bought some amazing items that I love to pieces, like a floor length gown and a winter jacket.”
Through continued community efforts, the thrift shop is able to continue supporting the Okinawa military community.
“We are always in need of volunteers,” said Rennie. “In 2016, we gave away 4,615 serviceable uniform items to service members for free. We can’t do what we do without the support of the community and their willingness to share. It’s satisfying knowing we are helping build a more tightly-knit community.”