The secret’s out: Bertram Library Thrift Store celebrates 30 years of unique items, dedicated volunteers

PHOTO 1: Volunteers at the Bertram Library Thrift Store include Friends of the Bertram Library president Jane Almquist (front), Pat Easly, Suzanne Strackbein, Doris Pearson (back, left) and Carol Allen (back, right). The store helps fund the Joann Cole Mitte Memorial Library, 170 N. Gabriel St. in Bertam. It is located next door to the library and is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. Courtesy photo


BERTRAM — The little secret that was is no longer.

The unique boutique atmosphere of the Bertram Library Thrift Store, a community mainstay nestled in the historic downtown district for decades, has been discovered by folks far beyond the city’s limits.

Patrons from Marble Falls, Burnet, Austin and even other parts of the country make the pilgrimage to the store, 140 N. Gabriel St. The shop helps fund the Joann Cole Mitt Memorial Library located next door.

“The Joann Cole Mitte Memorial Library in Bertram would not function without the funds raised through the thrift store,” said Jane Almquist, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Bertram Library, which operates the store. “It has kept the library open even when funding has lessened from the city and (Burnet) County.”

The store carries an assortment of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, shoes and accessories in addition to housewares, glassware, fine crystal, jewelry, books and linens. Also available are unique home-decor items, antiques and collectibles, holiday decorations and bestselling books, including a large selection of cookbooks.

“Our volunteers have dedicated many hours and hard work into making the store a success,” Almquist said. “Over the years, volunteers have renovated two buildings, converted library furniture into display cases, salvaged used clothes racks and created and maintained an attractive place for people to shop with the upmost of courtesy.”

Along with Almquist, the staff of volunteers, many of whom have been long-standing supporters, include Gayle Atkins, Doris Pearson, Pat Easley, Carol Allen, Laura Orr, Ellon Gustafson and Lillie Faye Hopkins. Also volunteering are Suzanne Strackbein, Rosie Hiers, Deanie Smith, Alta Bird, Guileen Odiorne, Elsa and Junior Lara, Pam Schlumpberger, Sharon Burgomy and Margaret Ibarra.

This year marks the thrift store’s 30th anniversary.

The Bertram Library Thrift Shop was founded Aug. 1, 1983, by Cora Ellen and Leo Coffman to provide much-needed support for the town’s library. The store was first housed in a small back room of a historic brick building in downtown Bertram. It was damp, dark and crowded and got by with minimal supplies and equipment. Cora Ellen even mended and washed clothes donated to the store at her home.

The store was relocated in 1991 to a slightly larger, more prominent space in an adjacent building and facing the town’s main street. There, Ellon and Lamar Gustafson renovated the space.

In 2011, when the library moved into a new building at 170 N. Gabriel St., the thrift store relocated to its current spot, a larger space next door to the library in the same historic building. This time, Don and Gayle Atkins handled the task of refurbishing and remodeling the new location.

The current site once housed a leather and saddle shop, a grocery store and a beauty shop, according to Ann Brock, the library’s director for the past 25 years.

Donations in gently used condition may be dropped off during the store’s hours, which are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, call the thrift store at (512) 355-2609.