In Edmonds: Goodbye, Ray and Virginia

Senior Center volunteers depart, as thrift store plans move to Westgate
By Brian Soergel | Nov 08, 2018
Photo by: Brian Soergel Ray Ferguson, 87, and Virginia Waldroup, 91, take a break outside the Edmonds Senior Center thrift store on Saturday, Oct. 27. It was their last day as volunteers.

On a recent Saturday, Ray Ferguson and Virginia Waldroup worked on lunch in an Edmonds Senior Center conference room. An incoming ferry in light chop was their picture-perfect view out the window.

It’s a view the two have seen many times during more than 28 years of sorting donations and ringing up sales at the senior center’s cozy thrift store.

But this day was their last, a bittersweet moment in time as the 91-year-old Waldroup and 87-year-old Ferguson wrapped up their final duties at the cramped store. They had decided it was finally time to retire.

Soon, of course, no one will be on site at the store or senior center, scheduled for demolition sometime next year to make way for the Edmonds Waterfront Center, a hybrid planned to offer both activities for seniors and citizens of all ages.

The plan now is to move classes and other activities to other locations around town – such as churches and other venues with available space – to keep seniors active and engaged while the new building is constructed.

The thrift store has already found a new, temporary home in Westgate, at the QFC shopping center at 100th Avenue West and Edmonds Way. It will occupy a space formerly held by a Hallmark store, senior center Executive Director Farrell Fleming said. The plan is to open in early January.

The current thrift store’s last day is Dec. 14. It’s sure to be an emotional day for both volunteers and customers.

“We not only love our customers, but we love the girls we work with,” Virginia said. “It’s just one nice big family.”

You might be surprised at how much the thrift stores is able to pull in, money that supports senior center activities.

“A good day when we started out was $100 a day,” Ray said. “A good day now is anything over $600. And we’ve been up as high as $1,300.”

As with most thrift stores, shoppers can find just about anything among its shelves. Books. Vases. Coffee cups. Toys. DVDs. And so on.

“I always say that if they ever put groceries in there,” Virginia said, “I wouldn’t have to shop anywhere else.”

Clothes are a top seller, as is jewelry. The book selection is a bit stale, as the Edmonds Library gobbles up most of the donations from the public, as does Goodwill, which is only a few doors down from where the relocated thrift store will open.

But the thrift store hangs on, even if changes are slow. The days of totaling receipts – and taxes – on tablets (paper, not the computer kind) are long gone; cash registers and hand-held debit readers are now in place, although those two items are quickly disappearing from the retail scene as well.

Ray and Virginia have witnessed a lifetime of changes at the store, but one thing hangs on – good, friendly customer service. Make them happy, and they’ll come back.

In the meantime, we just had to know.

Are Ray and Virginia a couple?

Virginia looks up. “Sort of,” she said.

And how are you two going to spend your time now?

She’s quick with her reply: “We’re not telling.”

She smiled.



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