Cherry Picked Thrift Shop, a non-profit store that supports Westside charities, schools and arts and educations programs, is celebrating its fifth anniversary on Aug. 8.
What began as a small organization has evolved into a secondhand store dedicated to assisting local charities in the area as well as promoting these groups to customers. Volunteers at Cherry Picked carefully pick through and clean each item until it is ready to be sold. 
Cherry Picked began as a non-profit in 2004 in the Palms Area, but the store flooded due to damage created by a heavy storm and could not find a place to relocate. Cherry Picked manager Justine Roncone was working at Rhino Records at the time and her boss was an advocate of social responsibility, inspiring Roncone to volunteer often. 
When the economy downfall hit in 2008, Roncone decided it was the best time to get Cherry Picked back on its feet. She moved the thrift store to the Pico area in 2008 and began seeking local non-profits to donate and raise awareness for in the city. 
Rancone decided that Cherry Picked should support local charities that do not have large corporate sponsorship, allowing them to gain more notoriety within the community. The store encourages customers to learn about these non-profit organizations and directly volunteer or donate if they wish. Currently, Cherry Picked is assisting S.A.V.E.S, a food assistance program in Culver City, and Harvest Home, a maternity home in Venice. 
“Whatever money we can afford to pay them, we put something in their direction,” Roncone said. “At the same time, we’re letting people know about these groups so that if they want to volunteer time with us or volunteer time with these groups directly, they can see that they’re tangible — they’re real, they’re genuine and they’re trying to make some kind of impact in the community.”
Cherry Picked’s biggest advertising campaign has been through positive reviews on Yelp, Rancone said. What has helped the store with business is the fact that Pico is a major thoroughfare. From people returning from the beach and headed towards the freeway to Santa Monica College students, the store constantly receives new customers who have never been by. Most of the customers, however, are Pico residents who live in the area.  
Cherry Picked is named after the way each donated item is carefully picked through and restored until it is nearly new and ready for sale, Roncone said. Volunteers steam all clothing, polish shoes and clean the children toys. If something is in a state unable to be sold, the store donates it to another organization that can find use for it. 
“Our niche under the Cherry Picked name is really thoroughly going through the donations to put the best that we can out there and bring it back to life,” Roncone said.
The customer service is another important aspect of the shop, Roncone said. Cherry Picked volunteers keep customer wish lists to keep track of specific items that regulars are looking for. The store helps groups including the Morgan Wixson Theater by picking out props that can be used in theater productions. Cherry Picked also works with elementary schools, offering discounts before school functions. 
Rancone hopes to find three more non-profits to support in the near future. For the month of August, the store will be offering 50 percent off discount for all items to celebrate the anniversary.
editor@smdp.com

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