Orange County

PTA Thrift Shop will take longer to consider name, Chapel Hill-Carrboro school ties

PTA Thrift Shop’s roughly $5.5 million capital project including a renovated Carrboro thrift store (right) at 125 W. Main St., an expanded parking lot, and a new YouthWorx on Main building (background, left) for nonprofits working with Chapel Hill and Carrboro young people.
PTA Thrift Shop’s roughly $5.5 million capital project including a renovated Carrboro thrift store (right) at 125 W. Main St., an expanded parking lot, and a new YouthWorx on Main building (background, left) for nonprofits working with Chapel Hill and Carrboro young people. tgrubb@heraldsun.com

The PTA Thrift Shop will take more time deciding whether to drop PTA from its name.

The board of directors decided Wednesday to take up the Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA Council's request to change its name this fall.

The council made the request in June after trying to get information for nearly a year about the PTA Thrift Shop's finances and when it might resume giving part of its profits from second-hand sales to local schools.

The thrift shop has diverted the money over the last several years to pay the mortgage on a new store building and the YouthWorx on Main building in Carrboro. The thrift shop also leases retail space in Chapel Hill for its second store.

The PTA Thrift Shop paid roughly $5.5 million to construct the buildings in two phases, spokeswoman Pat Richardson said. The 20-year mortgage was refinanced in 2016, and another $250,000 loan was taken out to cover unexpected project costs.

The thrift shop still owed $4.6 million as of June, Richardson said, and is paying $26,000 a month.

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The thrift shop board will consider its ongoing mission, business model and commitment to the schools this fall, its members said in a news release Friday.

The board also acknowledged the need for local PTAs to have "consistent, reliable annual funding" and said it would reach out to local PTA members, the PTA Council, Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board and others for feedback.

"Over the past several weeks we have been made aware of concerns from some members of our community over the use of 'PTA' in the 'PTA Thrift Shop' nonprofit organizational name," the board said. "Although our community partners as well as other community members support our continued use of the name and mission, we have heard and acknowledge the concerns."

There is no deadline for making a decision, the board said.

The PTA Council's Executive Board responded Monday, saying the PTA Thrift Shop either should stop using the PTA name by a July 15 deadline or be more transparent about its finances. That transparency should include an external financial review and a detailed plan and deadline for how the thrift shops will begin supporting the PTAs again, the board said in a statement.

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"The PTA Council Board appreciates that the PTA Thrift Shop Board of Directors says it has heard and acknowledges concerns from community members about the continued use of PTA in its name," board members said. "The PTA Council and its members representing 19 PTAs across CHCCS continue to wish them organizational viability and success. However, it’s shocking that the PTA Thrift Shop Board is asking for yet more — and undefined — time to consider next steps."

The nonprofit has used the name PTA Thrift Shop since it was founded in 1952 to financially support Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. That support had grown to about $265,000 a year by 2011, when the thrift shop embarked on its building projects.

The thrift shop has since given the PTAs a total of $119,000, plus $31,838 in Project Impact grants to individual schools.

An attempt to resolve the issues through mediation last year ended, because the PTA Council did not think the thrift shop was "forthcoming with financial information or a concrete plan to restore disbursements," former PTA Council President Lisa Kaylie has said.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926; @TammyGrubb
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