by Hailey Keller
Vintage is a term that is trending H-O-T right now. But, unlike that trendy pop-up boutique, Global Neighborhood Thrift (GNT) isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The GNT employees are staking their claim on all-things vintage and hustlin’ to create a space you’ll want to stop at first when looking for anything fabulous to wear or outfit your home with.
Established in 2011, Global Neighborhood Thrift’s mission is to “Offer pathways to employment for our neighbors who came to Spokane as refugees,” their website states.
So, how does vintage play a role in this? Well, in May 2020, GNT, like every other business in Spokane, was forced to close its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brent Hendricks, the founder and executive director of Global Neighborhood Thrift wanted to keep at least some of his employees employed.
“Our whole mission is employment, so he did it!” Julie Kimball-Bryant, GNT Store Manager, exclaimed.
To keep paychecks rolling out, Hendricks initiated GNT’s Instagram Story Sales. These would include daily or weekly multi-story posts highlighting articles of clothing, home goods or furniture for sale.
Kimball-Bryant said these story sales “Were the joy of pandemic for me.”
According to Kimball-Bryant, from the story sales, the GNT team realized what people were scooping up, particularly resellers: Vintage. And so, the thrift’s store shifted their focus to how they could make that work for them and their mission.
To begin any new endeavor, especially one on a scale the GNT’s vision was for, they needed someone who knew their stuff – enter Kimball-Bryant’s foray into vintage. She was knowledgeable about vintage and fashion in general, but quickly realized she couldn’t do it alone, so a second savant was hired: Indigo Knox.
In July 2021, GNT’s in-store vintage area opened, displacing the furniture space that once occupied the area – The pandemic was the start of the thrift’s journey into vintage and since then, Global Neighborhood Thrift has been a force to reckon with in the area’s vintage options.
For a non-profit whose focus is offering pathways to employment for refugees in Spokane, vintage is an entirely new concept to the majority of those employees at GNT.
Kimball-Bryant said vintage is “not a thing in other countries,” as many of them have a stigma about second-hand items and hand-outs of any kind.
“But we’re like, ‘No, no, no,” Knox said, “It’s super awesome!”
“For a lot of our staff at Global Neighborhood Thrift,” Kimball-Bryant said, “this is how they are learning about America and the history of nuance in America.”
For example, during this interview, a cardboard cutout of Austin Powers dressed in his iconic, purple crushed-velvet suit, sat behind this writer’s chair. Kimball-Bryant said when Home Goods team member, Bietlehem, came across it while sorting, she “brought this it up to me and said, ‘What is this?!’”
As all their thrift and vintage items are donated, GNT never quite knows what to expect.
Lately, however, the team has been “hoarding wedding dresses,” Kimball-Bryant said. In February, right before Spokane’s gorgeous springtime arrives and brides begin planning their fanciful weddings, GNT will be hosting a “Say Yes to the Dress” event with a huge variety of vintage wedding dresses (Mark yo’ calendars!).
Just how do the employees at Global Neighborhood Thrift determine what is vintage-fab and what is just drab? Thankfully, Kimball-Bryant said, GNT has a “really knowledgeable, nerdy and passionate grading team. These are the kind of people that love digging and they really know their stuff; we all come in with our niche.”
Knox’s specialty is denim, “I love denim,” Knox said, “That’s my thing. Give me all the denim from the 60s, please!”
Chris Alvarez-Larsen’s niche are vintage tees, which, according to, well, everyone, are extremely popular right now.
In fact, vintage tees are so insanely popular, they will be getting their very own area in GNT’s newest expansion space. Kimball-Bryant estimated that this dedicated tee-wing could hold up to 1,350 vintage tees (upon hearing that number, this writer’s jaw hit the floor, y’all!).
In May 2022, Global Neighborhood Thrift took over the other half of the building they currently occupy. With the expansion, they’ll have around 45,000 square feet of retail, storage and working space (writer currently squealing with delight)! That grand-opening will occur mid-to-late September (Follow @globalneighborhood on social media for all the updates).
Right now, the vintage clothing and home goods section has a four-week turnover to make sure that customers can come again and again and easily find new treasures. When the new space opens, that will transition to a six-week rotation schedule.
To those bibliophiles, you may be the most excited about the expansion’s new book department, which, Kimball-Bryant estimates, may house up to 25,000 books. YES, you read that right: 25,000.
In preparation to display and sell that many books, Executive Director Hendrick’s father, Marlin (who is the master of master craftsmen, Kimball-Bryant boasted), handcrafted 75 bookshelves for the cause. Marlin thankfully had help for this massive undertaking from GNT employees Malang, Noor and Mohammad.
The success of Global Neighborhood Thrift’s current vintage section has been palpable, and with the massive amount of new square-footage that’s about to be filled with even more amazingness, Knox and the entire vintage crew at GNT are taking their role as, what Kimball-Bryant has coined “Costuming Humanity” very seriously.
Hailey Keller – Copy Editor/Contributor
A journalistic writer with an empathic soul, Hailey likes to (loudly) speak the truth and make sure everyone has a seat at the proverbial table. When not fervently championing the success of all those around her, Hailey likes to visit the Gaiser Conservatory within Manito Park, spend hours on Etsy and consume sugary treats.
Her time working at Eastern Washington University solidified her passion of advocating for those unable to advocate for themselves and establishing connections with people around the community interested in doing the same.