Doris Booth shops at the Assistance League Thrift Shop in Huntington Beach. (SCOTT SMELTZER, HB Independent / January 15, 2014)

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It was another Wacky Wednesday, which meant discounts at the Assistance League of Huntington Beach Thrift Store.

Dozens of people were inside as soon as its doors opened that morning, looking for a bargain on necessities or just fun trinkets.

Some shoppers made a beeline for the clothing racks, hoping to find a blue tag item, indicating half off, or other garments discounted for the day. Others inspected luggage, sifted through books or examined dishware.

Kim Adams, one of the early birds, was greeted by nearly every volunteer as she walked around. Adams, 61, of Huntington Beach, is a regular at the store, located near Beach Boulevard and Slater Avenue.

Some of the volunteers said she comes in every day.

"No, I don't come in every day, but I do come in regularly on Tuesday and Wednesday, and sometimes I come in on Thursdays and Fridays," Adams said, prompting laughter. "I guess I do come in every day."

But before shoppers came rushing into the store at 11 a.m., Assistance League members and other volunteers had been in the back room, sorting through the donations taken in the night before.

Store manager Marilyn Davidson explained that the merchandise is sorted and prepped before going out on the showroom floor. Clothes are put on hangers, and appliances and electronics are placed in boxes or on shelves.

"And then someone comes around and tags them with our colored tags in our inventory," she said. "Then after three months, we put them on sale and what doesn't sell we give to a church that helps the homeless or other needy people."

Most of the items in the main room have a set price. For example, cups generically are 50 cents, long-sleeve blouses are $3 and shirts $2.50. More recognizable brands and higher-quality items are placed in the thrift store's corner boutique.

Davidson said she doesn't like inventory lingering in the back room, so once everything is tagged, it's sent to the showroom as soon as possible.

"That's the objective: in and out. We don't want to store things," she said. "It takes up too much valuable space to save one blouse that we would sell for $2.50. So get it on the floor because there'll be another $2.50 blouse in that donation bag."

The store manager added that goods are seldom thrown away. Yes, sometimes an item is too badly damaged or worn to be sold and ends up in a trash bin outside, but even discards find a new home.

"We have people that actually rummage through our trash, so it all gets recycled," Davidson said. "That's how you have to look at it."

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Funding community programs

The thrift store is the main source of funding for the Assistance League's philanthropic programs implemented throughout Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Westminster, said Diane Dwyer, spokeswoman for the nonprofit.

The Huntington Beach chapter of the nonprofit was the first to open a thrift store in Orange County, she said, adding that dozens of others are spead around the country.

"All the work that we put in the thrift shop, the whole purpose is so that we can have money to give away to the community," chapter President Doris Kennedy said.

Revenue from the store, along with money received from fundraisers, goes to the 15 local programs the organization is involved with. The Assistance League helps fund the El Viento program in the city's Oak View community and offers scholarships to combat veterans and students pursuing a nursing degree.