Nifty to be thrifty

Source: WickedLocal

Image Source: Daily News and Wicked Local Staff Photo/Art Illman

Sister Thrift. No, it's not a nun named after the patron saint of frugality. It's a retail store selling a wide variety of secondhand items founded by sisters Tiffany LeBrun and Rhonda Michaud.

The siblings launched their business as an online thrift store in 2003 and opened their first brick-and-mortar store at 370 Pleasant St. in Watertown in 2005. They opened their second at 374B Cambridge St. in Burlington in 2008 and their third in April at 1251 Worcester Road (Rte. 9 west, just before Temple Street) in Framingham.

LeBrun recently discussed Sister Thrift with Daily News staff writer Bob Tremblay.

QUESTION: Why was the business started?

ANSWER: My sister and I wanted to do something together that we loved doing and that benefited the community, the environment and the animals. We have an incredibly close relationship and we bring out the best in one another.

Q: Why did you choose Framingham for your new store?

A: We've been searching for a third location in MetroWest for several years. We benefit the MetroWest Humane Society, a no-kill cat shelter in Ashland and so we wanted to be close to it. Our Framingham store previously housed Game Universe.

Q: What did you do before you started this business?

A: I was an office manager and also did bookkeeping for a construction company while starting a family. I have a husband of 16 years and three sons. Rhonda was working the corporate scene as an executive assistant for a private equity firm. She is a licensed private pilot and skydiver with a husband of 15 years and a son and daughter.

Q: Is this your first business?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you work in other businesses?

A: Yes. I also help run my husband's landscape construction company. I love working with numbers so I personally handle all of the financial aspects of both businesses.

Q: What does your company do?

A: We are a retail thrift store that collects and sells secondhand goods donated by the local community. Part of our proceeds benefit the MetroWest Humane Society. We sell men's, women's and children's gently used clothing as well as shoes, purses, books, electronics, small appliances, video games, jewelry, CDs, small furniture and some antiques and collectibles.

Q: What makes you different from the competition?

A: We pride ourselves of being the friendliest, cleanest and best-priced thrift store around and the only local thrift store that directly benefits animals. We are two sisters who were born and raised in the area.

Q: What are the price of your products?

A: It's a thrift store so the prices vary. On average, all shirts and shoes are $5.99, pants/jeans are $6.99 to give you an idea. Our inventory is constantly changing. You never know what you're going to find. The best advice I can give is to come in often and if you see something you like, buy it. Items do not last long. I can't tell you how many times a customer is undecided over an item only to return hours later to purchase it and be told, "I'm sorry, it's been sold."

Q: Any financial news?

A: We have been fortunate enough to continually grow our sales on an annual basis.

Q: Any future plans?

A: To continue to perfect our business.

Q: How many employees do you have?

A: We currently employ more than 30 people. We have the most amazing employees. Many have been with us for several years and we are so grateful for each and every one of them. We also owe a huge thank-you to our parents, Ronald and Collette Baker of Newton, who have always supported us and have put in countless hours to help in any way they can. We owe much of our success to them. We are also forever grateful to our beloved grandmother, Mabel Sambucci, who supported us and literally emptied out her entire house to help us stock our first store in Watertown. She lived long enough to see us open our second store and we know she would be so proud to see this third location opening.

Q: Do you have any MetroWest connections?

A: Both Rhonda and I attended Framingham State for several semesters. I also moved to Framingham as a newlywed and called it home for eight years. I truly love Framingham and I am thrilled to be opening a location here. It feels like home. I now reside in Newton, where my sister and I grew up. Rhonda now lives in Carlisle.

Sister Thrift's website is www.sisterthrift.com.