Abstract: Helping Hands: Secondhand Shopping and Benevolent Networks of Exchange

Helen Sheumaker


The Social Service League of Lawrence, Kansas, started a Thrift Store during the Depression. The Thrift Store represents local community networks of intellectual, social, and religious peers. At the same time, a network of material exchanges developed in which goods transferred from the wealthy to those less fortunate. This paper will examine the historical development of the store itself using the store's own records and artifacts, newsletters and newspaper accounts, and other primary sources. In addition, the characteristics of secondhand goods as retail offerings will be examined. The Social Service Thrift Store is an example of how businesses, especially informal and eccentric small-scale retail outlets, served to connect individuals within a community socially and economically.