That quaint little thrift shop on Puget Street is a hive of activity almost every weekday. Shoppers, donors, and Soroptimist volunteers generate some of the best bargains in Skagit County, and all for the good of our community.
The Walnut Tree thrift shop has been a staple in Sedro-Woolley for 42 years (October 30, 1975); in its current location since 1994.
“We are proud to own and operate a thriving business in Sedro-Woolley,” said Bev Riesland, current president. “Our shop serves the community in many ways – as an outlet for donating items, as a thrift shopping opportunity, and using the proceeds for significant projects, including scholarships.”
Soroptimist International of Sedro-Woolley was chartered June 17, 1949 and remains a strong, growing, and busy club in the new millennium. Currently with 56 members, the club taps the labor and expertise of all who belong. “Many of our members have come to us because of the shop,” observed Riesland. “They know that their time and effort will be well-used by the club and will result in direct benefits to the community.”
“We struggled, as many clubs do, with fundraising for our community projects until The Walnut Tree was opened in October 1975,” said Judy Johnson, past president of the Sedro-Woolley group. “My mother, Bee Johnson, was president in 1975 and she was inspired by other clubs at a regional conference to start a Soroptimist thrift shop in Sedro-Woolley. The first location was east of Liberty Bell Market on State Street, where there was a big walnut tree dropping nuts on the roof of the little building where the shop began, and that’s how The Walnut Tree got its name.”
Over the years, SI Sedro-Woolley has contributed funds to hundreds of local projects. A few examples are: Building Hammer Heritage Square, building the Sedro-Woolley Community Center, purchasing a hovercraft for Skagit Search and Rescue, contributing to all East County food banks, contributing to the Sedro-Woolley Senior Center and March for Meals, sponsoring mammograms for East County women through Citrine Health, contributing operating and program funds to the Sedro-Woolley Boys and Girls Club, and sponsoring Chamber of Commerce events.
“Our favorite project is probably awarding scholarships to Sedro-Woolley, State Street, and Concrete high school graduates,” said Anita Weidkamp, scholarship committee chair. “It is so rewarding to help local young people get started on their higher education.”
Shop proceeds are also directed to Soroptimist International’s signature projects around the world. The organization’s mission statement, “Improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment,” reflects the focus on lifting women out of poverty and into financial independence.
“Live Your Dream” Awards are available to adult women who are heads of household and are pursuing higher education to improve their skills and employment prospects.
The Walnut Tree thrift shop is located at 713 Puget Street in Sedro-Woolley. Visit our Facebook page for shopping hours, donation hours, and updated information.
Soroptimist International has 76,000 members in 120 countries. There are five clubs in Skagit County; three clubs operate thrift shops. The coined word, “Soroptimist” means “Best for Women”. Visit www.soroptimist.org for more information.