It fits like a hand in a glove. A second-hand glove. Lifelong Thrift is set to open on Broadway Wednesday morning bringing a most Capitol Hill next chapter to the former space home to Red Light Vintage.
“I feel like we’re a part of the old Capitol Hill,” Thrift’s director Tamara Asakawa told CHS Tuesday as she and her crew of 10 employees and a dozen or so volunteers put the finishing touches on the gigantic new home for the store.
The new Lifelong Thrift combines the spaces left empty by the departure of the much-loved Red Light and its sibling boutique Aprie and at 12,500 square feet and two levels will be almost three times the size of the thrift’s former E Union location.
In November, CHS reported that the prospect of higher rent combined with lower than needed sales was forcing the ownership of Red Light, acknowledged as the Hill’s oldest vintage clothing store, to leave Broadway. Lifelong Thrift was slated for an earlier opening but a complication over a move-in date caused a costly delay for the nonprofit. Asakawa said the pluck of her crew and volunteers helped keep things on track even with the added cost and work of dealing with storage and waiting for the spaces to open up for the buildout to begin. Changes inside are few — in fact, you’ll see many remnants of Red Light left behind. But you’ll also find an opened up space that better connects the two wings of the shop.
In addition to vintage and thrift clothing, Lifelong’s new space allows more room for furniture, household goods, “and the popular boutique section that carries more high-end designer apparel.” Asakawa said that furniture and household goods are the most needed donation items right now to fill in the new space. In the densely populated area home to both single family-style home residents and apartment dwellers, the new thrift store is expecting lots of smaller walk-in donations. If you have larger items to drop off, come around back to the driveway behind the store off Thomas.
The Broadway opening is part of an evolution for Lifelong as it has shifted its operations to E Pike as part of a new complex of LGBTQ-friendly-est health and culture facilities including the Out of the Closet Thrift and AHF Pharmacy. The new Broadway store also reinvigorates its retail wing after the arrival of Goodwill on Capitol Hill this spring.
Lifelong Thrift sales “benefit Lifelong’s work delivering services to people living with chronic illnesses, including HIV/AIDS,” according to the nonprofit. In addition to its retail activities, Lifelong Thrift offers a voucher program to HIV positive people for “basic living essentials,” like warm coats, dishes, and clothes.
The shop location on E Union operated for 13 years but Lifelong has been doing thrift on Capitol Hill since the 1980s. The E Union building is slated to be transformed into a new headquarters + bike shop + training facility + cafe for Herriott Sports Performance.
Meanwhile, Broadway is ebbing and flowing between another shift in its commercial real estate tectonics. The papered-over windows of Red Light are finally gone but the neighboring space formerly home to Broadway Grill remains empty and unrented. On the same block, Julia’s endures. Meanwhile, a block south, the large space home to the Broadway OfficeMax remains dark and shuttered after the chain closed its Capitol Hill outlet earlier this year and the Castle Megastore is slated for a move to E Pike. Other, smaller retail shifts are underway. New ventures are coming — and coming — and coming — and coming. But the biggest, most significant plate is expected to slip any time now this spring as Sound Transit finally announces what developers it will work with to build thousands of square feet of housing and retail around the soon to open Capitol Hill Station. Lifelong Thrift, part of that “old Capitol Hill,” will be there to greet — and help decorate — whatever the new developments bring.
Lifelong Thrift is now located at 312 Broadway E and open 10 to 8 Monday – Saturday and 11-7 Sunday. You can get the latest updates on facebook.com/LifelongThrift.