Economy Shop Claremont

Our Story

The Economy Shop Established 1933

The Economy Shop Claremont has been a permanent fixture of the City of Claremont since the 1930’s and has always been run entirely by volunteers.

The Economy Shop and its volunteers provide a rare blend of neatly displayed, clean quality thrift store merchandise in a fun place to shop. Eighty-five years of service to the community attest to its viability.

The Economy Shop was started during the Great Depression to help citrus industry farm workers and other individuals in need to acquire clothing and household goods at a low cost. 

In 1948, the volunteer organization acquired the old telephone switching station at 325 W. First St. in the Claremont Village. In January 1949, it officially opened as the Economy Shop.

Community volunteers and donations of clean clothing, household goods, jewelry and books are always appreciated. Donations are accepted during shop hours and on Monday and Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m. All donations are tax deductible.

Through the Decades

1930's: The Beginning: Bess Garner and United Church of Christ

The Economy Shop was begun in 1933 as a project of the Claremont Church (now known as the United Church of Christ) Community Service Committee. The original committee worked out of a home owned by the Church.

1940's: Articles of Association and new home for the Economy Shop

In 1941, the Shop moved to 112 Harvard Ave. which was available “rent free”. From 1944 to 1948, the Shop was located at 221 W. 1st Street, and the intention of the Board was to purchase this property from Mr. Clarence Stover. However, in 1946, notification was received that the building and lot had been donated to Pomona College. The first formal board minutes in spring of 1941 note, that in attendance at that meeting, held at the home of Bess Garner (Memorial Park Building) were, Mrs. Langston, Miss Ackerman, Miss Loring, Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dale. At that meeting, a presentation was made by Mr. H. J. Hawkins about the Harvard Ave. property. The Shop was open on Saturday mornings and at a July meeting, it was voted that all money earned would be, “spent for welfare work”. At the May 10th meeting in 1942, the officers elected were: Mrs. H. H. Garner, Chair; Mrs. Leon Johnson, Vice- Chair; Miss Lucy Loring, Assistant Vice-Chair/Shop Manager; Mr. H. J. Hawkins, Treasurer; Mrs. Dale Healy, Secretary. It’s interesting to note that in 1943, the bank balance was $305.67. An invitation was extended in 1944 from the Claremont Coordinating Council which had been formed in 1939, for the Shop to send a representative to their monthly meetings. Mrs. Leon Johnson was the caseworker who, in 1945, handled requests for aid and made recommendations for welfare to the Board. In 1946, Mrs. Bertha “Bert” Uniacke joined the Board and was associated with the Shop until her death in December 1986 at age 102. Some of the cases addressed by the Board were; money given for eye surgery, help with expenses for hospitalization, and family emergency expenses. Mrs. Garner, who had been involved from the shop’s beginning, resigned as Chair and Mrs. Leon (Azile) Johnson took over that position. A committee was formed to find a “permanent home” for the organization in 1947. At the October 6th meeting of that year, which was held at the home of Kathyrn Allen, Eleanor Daly Condit joined the Board. The search committee recommended the purchase of our current property at the Nov. 8th meeting in 1948. The 1st Street property was owned by the Associated Telephone Company and was listed for $5,000.00. At the Dec. 1st, 1948 meeting, it was resolved to purchase this property for the asking price of $5,000 with $2,500 down and payments of $27/month to be made on the remaining $2,500. Also, at the Dec. meeting, Articles of Association were drawn up, establishing the Economy Shop as an Unincorporated Association for benevolent purposes. In January, 1949 The Economy Shop opened at 325 W. 1st Street. At this time the Officers of the Board were: Pres. Mrs. Leon (Azile) Johnson; Shop Managers, Mrs. Ralph (Bertha) Uniacke and Mrs. Burrett (Kathyrn) Allen; Treasurer, Mr. Harry Hawkins; Secretary, Mrs. F. D. Healy; with Eleanor Condit taking over during the year as Secretary Pro Tem. In June of 1949 the Shop received a seller’s permit #AP39128 and in July the property tax ($43) was paid. Extensive fundraising resulted in the debt on the building being paid off on September 14th, 1949.

1950's: By-laws drawn up and first Economy Shop sign

By-laws were drawn up and read by the Secretary at the January meeting in 1950. New Board members added during this year were, Dr. and Mrs. Nelson Bell and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fitts. At this time couples were encouraged to join the Board and given just one vote, which is still the case. During 1951, Mrs. Bess Garner was replaced on the Board by Ellen Pierce. Dr. Nelson Bell assumed the chairmanship in 1952 and an audit was done of the books by Mr. Whyte and Mr. Fitts. Mrs. Pierce resigned and Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Scherer came on the Board. Dr. and Mrs. Francis Hearst also joined the Board during this year. A discussion was held at the June Meeting in 1953, concerning the shop management being handled by the Mabon sisters (Olive and Ora). Due to the small number of volunteers, at this time, the Shop was open only on Tuesday morning from 9-12. The By-Laws were changed so that the Annual Meeting/elections of officers would be held in June (instead of Jan.). Also, at this meeting Mrs. Poponoe became the Welfare Chairman, replacing Azile Johnson. A new sign was installed to identify the Shop at its new location in 1954 and Mrs. Grace Scherer was appointed to represent the Shop at the Coordinating Council meetings. Brochures were developed in 1955 to be distributed to other groups and to be available at public places, such as the library. Mrs. Whyte and Mrs. Scherer offered to help with the Shop Management. After many years, Mr. Hawkins resigned as Treasurer and Mr. Whyte took over this position. Also, due to ill health, Eleanor Condit resigned from the Board. The death of Mrs. Eleanor Daly Condit was announced at the 1957 April Meeting and the board made a donation to the cancer fund in her memory. At the March meeting of 1958, the representative to the Coordinating Council, Ann Poponoe, reported that the group discussed the concern of drop outs and delinquency at Claremont High School. To address this problem, Bob Graham, a local juvenile officer expressed the need for a “Youth Center with continuing supervision”. Dr. Larkin’s death was announced at the Oct. Meeting and it was noted that $200 was left to the Shop in his will. With Wayne Scherer presiding at the Dec. Meeting, the Shop was incorporated, with the paper work signed and approved by the state government in Sacramento. The city surveyor, Mr. Andreason, included our lot in the Alexander St. (Indian Hill) survey to establish the boundaries of the Economy Shop property in 1959.

1960's: Shop exempt from federal income taxes/Donation to Kahuilla Park

On April 29, 1960, a letter was received from the State of California Franchise Tax Board that stated ,” It is the opinion of this office, based upon the evidence presented that you are exempt from State franchise tax under the provisions of Section 237 Old of the Revenue and Taxation Code, as it is shown that you are organized and operated exclusively as a charitable organization”. An attached letter, from the U.S. Treasure Department Internal Revenue Service, dated July 29, 1960, stated that, “you are exempt from Federal income tax as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954”. Visitors to the December Board Meeting were: Mrs. Clark Hungerford, who explained insurance issues; Mrs. Robert Troutman, who was the chair of the Claremont Community Welfare Group; and Mrs Mary Peterson, who told about the Well Baby Clinic that was organized to help Mexican-American mothers.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Troutman began their long association with the Economy Shop in 1962, with “Bob” becoming Board President in 1963.

Also in 1963, there was a shift in philosophy from welfare for individual cases that were “giving aid to established social welfare groups” to a new philosophy of meeting community needs.

In 1967, a grant was given to the City Parks and Recreation Department, headed by Mrs. Higgenbothom to purchase plants and shrubs for the new Cahuilla Park.

An interesting comparison of utility expenses for 1969, lists monthly Edison and Gas Co. bills of $1.69 and $2. 61 respectively.

1970's: Donations to Pilgrim Place, House of Ruth

In 1972, grants were made of $1,000 to the McCabe Rest Home at Pilgrim Place as well as continuing support of Our House, a Youth Counseling Center sponsored by the city and $100 to the Claremont Children’s Center. Marian Troutman gave a report on the establishment of the Meals on Wheels Program to serve the Claremont area. Dwight Ryerson was elected V. President of the Board in 1975 and his wife, Ruby took on the duties of Shop Manager the following year. As had been done for many years, in 1977, a grant of $300 was made to the Claremont Coordinating Council to help fund camperships for underprivileged youth. With the House of Ruth organization starting in 1979, the Shop granted $300 to help them with their mission.

1980's: Cross Roads and Red Cross joins forces with the Economy Shop

Another service organization began in 1980, Crossroads, which was given a $100 grant. With John Calvin, as Chair of the Claremont Chapter of the American Red Cross and Cay Griffith as Director, an agreement of cooperation, using volunteers from the Red Cross, the shop was able to be open Tues. and Thur. and a half day on Saturday. The first recognition tea was held in May of 1981 with 40 volunteers in attendance. Margaret Hodder, Mr. and Mrs. John Calvin and Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Johnson joined the Board, with Marcella Johnson taking the position of Secretary. In ’82, the People Place opened and asked for the cooperation of the Shop and Inland Hospice received its first grant. Ruth Coopersmith and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Comstock joined the Board as Margaret Hodder began a 15 year commitment as President. At the Feb. 6th Board Meeting in 1983, a Statement of Understanding was drawn up with the Claremont Chapter of the American Red Cross. The Chapter would provide volunteers to staff the Shop so it could be open Tues. through Thurs. and in turn would get 50% of the profits over operating expenses. Other notations for this year were that our volunteer coffee was held at Mt. San Antonio Gardens for the first time, and a grant was made to the Council of Churches (now called Hope Partners). Also, a policy was established that the Shop would not open unless it was staffed by two volunteers. A member of the Board would be called to fill in if this situation occurred. In 1984, on Feb. 15th, Bert Uniacke celebrated her 100th Birthday. At the time of her death in 1986, after 40 years of shop association, in her estate were Shop Brochures from 1933! Also in 1986, there was continued discussion concerning the parking lot situation, with others using our slots, even though each year our property line was identified by roping off our area and signs were posted. An important bill was signed by Governor George Deukmejean, protecting volunteers, Officers and Directors for charitable corporations, limiting personal liability if the organization works “in good faith and is prudent, keeps proper minutes and audits”. This took effect, Jan. 1st, 1987. Lansing and Claudine Travis joined the Board in 1988. The history of the building was discussed in 1989. Three twenty five W. 1st Street was constructed in 1920 (750 square feet). Rose and Henry Boland joined the Board.

1990's: Earthquake retrofit, improvements, addition of heating and AC

In 1990, John and Mary Calvin moved to Oregon and Dorothea Jarecki joined the Board to assume the position of Treasurer. For earthquake safety, the city required that our building undergo a $15,000 retrofit to comply with state codes. This was completed in 1992. In 1993, the volunteer coffee was held in June. In failing health, Bob and Marian Troutman resigned from the Board. An awning was installed on the front of the building in 1994 by the American Canvas Co. Over the years, meetings had been held in the evening; but for convenience, the Monday meetings were rescheduled at 2P.M. Also, the coffee was held in October and used as an Orientation Meeting. Claudine Travis took over scheduling volunteers from Ann Comstock. With a gift of $6,000 in late 1996 from San Antonio Garden’s residents, Doug and Nan Moore, a heating and air conditioning system was ordered. Secretary Marcella Johnson resigned due to health issues, and Pat Bortscheller assumed that position when she and Norm joined the Board in June of that year. The A/C and heating installation was completed in January of 1997. At the June Meeting, Margaret Hodder resigned as President. Lansing Travis was elected to this position and Pam and Al Herrlinger joined the Board. Officers elected in 1999 were; Norm Bortscheller- President, Ruth Coopersmith-V.P., Al Herrlinger- Treasurer, Pat Bortscheller-Secretary. Also at this meeting, the updated By-Laws were approved.

2000's: Joined Village Venture, was the honored organization for 4th of July celebration

In October 2001, the Shop opened for business for the first time during Village Venture. This was very successful, and it was agreed to continue each year with the board members as staff. With the sale and renovation of Powell’s Hardware in 2003, the “key and change box” was taken at the close of each day to Dr. Goldstien’s office for volunteer pick up the next working morning. At the July 12th meeting in 2004, Fran and Rich Laughton joined the Board. During this year, Mary Jeanne Herrlinger also joined the Board and took over the volunteer coordinating job, as supporters of the Shop, Claudine and Lansing Travis resigned. In April of 2006, Claudine Travis passed away. Officers elected in June were; Norm Bortscheller -Pres., Rich Laughton –V.P, Al Herrlinger –Treas., Pat Bortscheller –Secy. The summer of 2006 brought a complete renovation of the building with a gift of new shelves from Richard Tice of Engineered Storage Systems. All old “furnishings” were removed, new shelves added around the periphery of the building, new racks built, a larger dressing room with a storage section installed, and walls were repaired and repainted. The changes were favorably received by the customers when the Shop opened in September. In February of 2007, new receipt books were ordered by Al Herrlinger to comply with state ordered procedures for 501C3 non-profits. That year was the City of Claremont’s centennial year, and the volunteer coffee held on June 18th, used that theme with Judy Wright, Claremont Historian as our speaker. During the fall, the brochure was updated and the shop opened with a new schedule on September 5th. Our schedule of operation became Wed. Thurs. and Friday, from 9 – 4 and Saturday, from 10 – 1. Sorting and pricing was done on Mondays and Tuesdays. Southern CA. Water Company turned off our water during the summer. After Norm Bortscheller spoke with a company representative, it was determined that our use of water was not worth the paperwork to charge us. The Shop, at that location, had not been charged in the past. A few operational changes and upgrades occurred in 2008. It was agreed that, the afternoon volunteers would take the key to Dr. Koprivica’s office, with $30 in change left in the Shop for use by the volunteers on the following day. Safety issues were discussed at the June coffee resulting in an emergency box being assembled and placed under the desk by Rich Laughton. New venetian blinds were purchased for the windows. The Shop was nominated by Karen Rosenthal as the Honored Group to ride in the 4th of July parade and we were invited to the festivities at the Garner House. In December, Lu Crow took over for Betty Vislay as Shop Manager. Also, the bathroom was painted while we were closed for the holiday at a cost of $180. We discontinued the use of the night deposit box at the bank in the spring of 2009, much to the relief of the afternoon volunteers. Over the summer, the exterior of the building was painted by Snelson Painting at the cost of $2,180 and a new awning was purchased from American Canvas at a cost of $1,884.03. Dena Morean and Pam House joined the Board at the June meeting.

2010's: Entering 80th year of the Economy Shop

Pam House took over as Shop Manager at the February 8th meeting in 2010. The April 5th meeting brought the welcome and surprising news that former board member, Ruth Coopersmith, to celebrate her 90th birthday, would make a donation of a new storage shed for the shop. To recognize the generous gift, Ruth and her son Jim, were invited to the coffee and she was presented with a “thank you” plaque. Over the summer, Jim and a crew of helpers removed the old shed and installed the new and larger one. In the fall, to help those who had trouble getting up the front step, Rich Laughton installed a grab bar. Because the optometrist’s office was often not open early in the morning, it was decided at the October 10th, 2011 meeting, that the Board members would take turns opening the Shop each morning. The afternoon, the volunteers locked the front door from the inside, then locked the back door, and put the key through the mail slot. After doing a wonderful job as Chair of Volunteers, at the December 12th meeting, Mary Jeanne Herrlinger announced that she would retire when we closed in June. To fill the vacant Chair of Volunteers position in the fall of 2012, Dena Morean agreed to take on that important job. The Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center was chosen as a change of location for the annual volunteer coffee.  During the spring, Frank Hungerford sold the Goldstien property to Andy Oshay of Alpine Hill Properties. Frank had been a good and supportive neighbor. Ann Lumsden was asked and agreed to call all scheduled volunteers at Tuesdays to remind them of their assignments. The 80th year shop anniversity was celebrated in 2013. This was heralded with a nice article in the Courier. At a meeting of the Claremont Coordinating Council, it was suggested by a man representing the Kiwanis that we apply for a grant to replace our badly scratched front windows. Norm Bortscheller applied and $545 was granted for the installation of the windows over the summer. Also, while we were closed for the summer break, Don Breyer and Dena Morean constructed a new sandwich board to be displayed on the sidewalk during our open hours. At the April 8th meeting, Rich Laughton announced that he had talked with the staff at the Annigian Law Firm and they agreed to keep our key at their office in the Goldstein Building starting in the fall. New members to the board this year were, Florence Kraft and Pat Reed.  April 2014 meeting, after a discussion concerning ongoing with plumbing issues, $5,500 was withdrawn from our Balboa Savings account and Al Herrlinger contracted with Lee’s Plumbing to clear the lines to avoid future “backups”. Under Pam House’s direction, stenciling with information about the Shop, was applied to the front windows. At the October 8th meeting, Pat and Norm Bortscheller presented a plaque which was given to the Shop by CLASP, as recognition of our support for that organization. To simplify our procedure, it was suggested by Al Herrlinger, that we no longer accept checks from shoppers or volunteers. In February of 2015, it was announced that Fashion Mart, a local dress shop had closed and donated some equipment and clothing to the Shop. During the summer, a reconfiguration of the Shop was done using some of the “rounds” and other donated items, giving the Shop a new look. After 16 years of service, Norm Bortscheller resigned as President of the Board. A nominating committee was formed and the new officers: Rich Laughton, President; Pat Reed, Vice President; Al Herrlinger, Treasurer; and Pat Bortscheller; Secretary were installed at the June Meeting. At the December meeting, a donation was made to Shoes that Fit for the first time. In 2016, a By-Laws committee was formed under the direction of Pat Reed and after many meetings and discussions, the By-Laws were amended by the vote of the Board of Directors at the October 12, 2016 meeting. Also at this meeting a representative from Claremont Senior Community Services made a presentation about their services. After holding the Volunteer Recognition Coffee at the Hughes Center for many years, Karen and Pat Reed made arrangements with the Granite Creek Community Church to hold it at that location. This was a fiscal decision, as the church offered its use at no cost. With sales increasing, the money in the cash box for change was increased to $60.00. Over the summer of this year a new enclosed area was built as a display area for the east front window. In December, the Visiting Nurses Association, which we had supported, closed their office on First Street and donated many valuable items to the Shop for sale and use. On June 16th, Anne Davenport, a long time Claremont resident, teacher and Shop volunteer died suddenly. The summer of 2017 brought many improvements, including painting the outside of the building by Steve Brueger and purchase of a new awning from American Canvas. On the inside, the bathroom floor was painted and a “baby area” created and built by Pat Reed in the northeast corner of the building. In 2018, the Herrlingers moved after 21 years of service to the shop. Florence Draft took over the position of treasurer that Al Herrlingers had held for many years. Chuck Freitas and Jim Coopersmith, active volunteers for many years, joined the Board of Directors. New phones were installed and security cameras were purchased. 2019,  Karen Reed took over the position of shop manager from Pam House. Heating and AC equipment were replaced during the summer break. At the June meeting, it was decided that $25,000 be granted to ten nonprofit organizations. Estate sale donations were a great addition to stock and increased income. 

2020's: A new era post-COVID

The shop was off to a good start in 2020, with many volunteers and good sales. This smooth operation ended abruptly with the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March. The volunteers were contacted, thanked and informed that the usual recognition coffee would be cancelled. The shop made donations to those organizations that were greatly affected by this pandemic. $4,000 was granted to the following non-profits: Claremont Senior Services, Meals on Wheels, Hope Partners, Project Sister and Uncommon Good. Board meetings were arranged by Rich Laughton and held on Zoom. With many safety measures in place, including required masks, and volunteers willing to work, the shop reopened on September 30th. 2021 brought the creation of a website,  This was designed and donated by Kimberly Andria, for the Economy Shop to increase community exposure and shopper viability. The store went through a major renovation during the early summer 2021. Labor and supplies were donated for the projects of painting the inside of the building and a new floor covering. The shop re-opened on September 1st, 2021. The first “in person” board meeting since February of 2020, was held on October 12, 2021, in Freddie Watson’s back yard. 2022 proved to be the best fund raising year in the history of the Economy Shop (dating from 1933), with $52,000.00 being donated to the following organizations: Aging Next, Claremont High School Theatre, CLASP (Claremont After School Programs), Claremont Meals on Wheels, Claremont Senior Foundation, Crossroads, Inc., Inland Valley Hope Partners, Project Sister, Santa Claus, Inc., Service Center for Independent Life, Shoes that Fit, and Uncommon Good. Public Relations: The web site continues to make the shop more visible to the public. Rich and Fran Laughton paid the fee for the shop to join the Chamber of Commerce. Pat Reed will represent the shop at Chamber events. Cindy Radici will be the contact with the Courier. All officers of the Board, except the secretary, agreed to continue for another term and remain members until 2025. Kimberly Andria, Mark and Cheryl Reed joined the Board. Carol and Rich Marrinelli resigned from the Board due to relocation to another state. Norm and Pat Bortscheller have been board members for 26 years and recently retired from the board, but not from volunteering! Both Norm and Pat were deemed to be Honorary Board Members. November 2023, CLASP  honored the EconomyShop for its many years of support to CLASP and the Claremont Community. Since 1933, The Economy Shop has donated more than $1 million dollars to over 65 non-profit organizations in its 90 year history. CLASP itself has received $58,000 over the last 14 years! Awards were given by United States Representative, Judy Chu, who presented a Congressional Recognition Certificate to The Economy Shop. Other awards were presented by Claremont Mayor, Ed Reece from the Claremont City Council (see AWARDS page).