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Meet Emma Hall of Love the City Thrift Store in Culver City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emma Hall.

Emma, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
We are a small nonprofit that began as a vision of how to connect people of faith to their community in a way that is active and loving- and we wanted that mission to be so clear that it was in the name. Every document, application and receipt comes stamped with the idea that we first formed around: “What does it mean to love our city?” A thrift store might not seem like an obvious answer, but what we came to realize was that having a store location meant a constant stream of resources that connect us to an incredible network of individuals doing work in our community. Since day one we have encountered amazing people and opportunities to help those less fortunate, whether that means using our truck to help someone move, donating free clothing to the homeless members of our community, helping someone into housing or to get a car, or even asking someone how they are doing. As a church-founded thrift store, we have maintained a common goal since we first opened our doors, which is to make an impact in people’s lives so that they can participate in loving our city, whether that means volunteering, donating, purchasing secondhand items, or partnering with us in other ways. I’ve personally been very touched to see the difference we make in the lives of our friends here at the store; some of them don’t hear many kind words and our heart is to be generous and joyful. It started with estate sales and a few people trying to raise money for missions and turned into a business with a big ole’ truck, staff and some wonderful customers.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I would say it’s never been a smooth road, but it’s usually been a straight one. We’ve known what we wanted, and that common vision really unites people and makes the direction somewhat clear. But we’ve had a lot of staff turnover, volunteer turnover, and challenges are aplenty when you’re merchandising secondhand goods. You never know what is showing up or when, and since we also deliver and offer pickup service, we are often at full capacity. Making sure that it’s understood that we aren’t a disposal site and can’t accept damaged or destroyed items is sometimes difficult, but honestly since our biggest goals are people-focused, the how and what of inventory comes second. In the beginning there were a lot of miracles; we were scheduled to open without any hangers, for one thing, and were at the last minute were supplied with enough hangers to open the store with racks of clothes. Our counters and display cabinets were all given to us. People rallied!

Love the City Thrift Store – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
There are so many reasons why I love working at the store. For the hilarious shenanigans we all get up to, and the weird items that come through our doors. We have things that no other store has, and among my favorite things is that our prices are cheap. SO cheap. Once we have an idea of the value of an item we usually cut that in half. We want good things to be available to anyone, so we really strive to have prices that anyone can afford. But we also get some amazing merchandise in; things with really cool stories and backgrounds. All of that is really special, but it wouldn’t mean anything if it weren’t for our crew. The people I work with are all individually and corporately awesome. I’m so proud of my staff and how well they interact with our customers and how helpful and kind they are. I think above everything else that’s what we’re known for; great service and better prices! We do a $10 bag sale every day (except Sunday) where anyone can come in and fill up a grocery paper bag with all the majority clothing. Right now we’re doing a special where you get half price off of all the vintage and tagged clothes when you get the bag as well. People love that bag sale. But they also love that when they shop with us, they are feeding back into the community.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
This is a tough question, but honestly I think all my proudest moments have been when I’ve gotten to listen to someone who is going through a really difficult struggle in their lives and tell them that we’re here for them and will try to help them. Encouraging people or meeting their physical needs is the biggest win for me, whether it’s customers, volunteers, staff, or folks on the street.

Pricing:

  • $10 Bag Sale Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm
  • Accepting donations Mon-Sat, 11am-5pm

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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