History of the Friends Thrift Shop

105 W. Pecan St.
Burnet TX 78611
(512) 756-7124

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The Thrift Shop was started in 1983 when a group of the board members of the Friends of the Library decided they could help the library by selling used clothing and miscellaneous items.  Billy Jo Fox loaned the use of a building on 281N and the Thrift Shop was born. Volunteers did all the work and the community liked the idea of donating to a worthy cause.  All the Proceeds were used to support the library programs and buy books.

After a year or two Billy Jo needed his building, so the Friends had to look to other sites.  They found one on the first floor of the old county jail.  The county provided the space, but the facility was not ideal.  Business hours were still Friday and Saturday mornings.  Then the old Masonic Hall became available for $150.00 a month.  A few years later the old Burnet Hotel was restored on the square and the Friends rented space for $300.00 a month.  Thursday was added to business hours, in addition to all day Friday and Saturday mornings.  Donations got heavier, and soon Wednesday was added to the schedule.  Sales were still increasing.

The Hotel was sold in 1998 and that’s when the Friends decided to build a place of their own.  The corner lot of Pecan and Main St. had been vacant for many years, but it was zoned for residential.  After the Friends met with the Burnet Planning and Zoning Committee and the Burnet City Council and the lot was rezoned for light commercial.  The property was purchased from Mrs. E. Kinsey in 1998 for $12,500.00.

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Construction began soon after on a 3840 square ft. facility and was completed in 1999.  Randy Smith was the General Contractor.  The cost was $170,000.00.  Sales were very good and the building and the land were paid off within 2 years. 

We were now open 4 days a week, Tuesday through Saturday mornings.  Monday was designated as a work day for the backroom. Since 2001 we have added on twice, enlarging the space for merchandise and enlarging the back work room, and also added two storage buildings in the back for a total of 1630 square ft., and a cost of $55,000  We also added a canopy over the drop off dock.  In order to prevent people from taking items from the dock without permission, we installed a camera and a gate that is opened and closed daily, plus all weekends.  Due to the continued support of the community with their donations, the Friends were able to pay off the additions in record time, while still giving money to the library for books and supporting their programs.

 As of 2008, we have approximately 27 volunteers who work at the check out counter and six paid employees in the backroom. Incidentally, two original members of the Thrift Shop are still giving of their time here – Alice Leech, who is our General Manager, and Adele Wilken, who manages the volunteer hours.  The average hours for volunteers totals 400 hours a month, and paid employees total about the same for a month.  It is truly a community effort.

Since 2001, the ongoing projects for the library have been:
  • Circulating collections of videos, DVD's, music, CD’s and books on tape and CD.
  • Purchasing a core collection of children’s books, including a circulating collection of board books for babies.
  • Purchase of display racks for all audio-visual.
  • Circulating collection of fiction and non-fiction books I Spanish for adults.
  • Contributing to the computer fund.
  • Funding a collection of genealogy reference and how-to-books and CD-Roms.
  • Support to LaCare by providing 15 vouchers per month valued at $5.00 each that can be redeemed for clothing at the Thrift Shop.
  • Pays for renting the copy machine used by patrons near the circulation desk.
  • Funding 15 part-time hours a week, to keep the library open on Saturdays - at a cost of $10 per hour.
  • Purchased a digital camera for library use
  • Hired professional help to move shelving for the audio collection
  • Purchased solar shades to enable computer users to view monitors against late afternoon sun
  • Paid for professional programs for Summer Reading Club
  • Microfilming our local newspapers so that they can be reviewed in later years. 
  • Contributed over half the cost of digital microfilm reader/printer

Completed projects include (since 2001):
  • Automatic front door
  • Electronic people counter.
  • New shelving for first floor ($20,000) old shelving was donated to Bertram.
  • Installation of ceramic tile in main traffic areas of the library.
  • Purchased a new custom made circulation desk.
  • In 2004 allocated $17,000 to pay a part-time county employee for 1 year
  • Replaced chairs in the meeting room that had been in use sine the 1970s
New Project:

The Friends are spearheading construction of a new library building for the community at the corner of Jackson and Pierce.  With the help of community fundraisers, ongoing Thrift Shop sales proceeds, individual and business donations, our goal continues to be construction of a new library building at no cost to taxpayers.

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Friends of the
Herman Brown Free Library (FoHBFL)
P. O. Box 1265
Burnet TX 78611

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