A long table filled with shirts of all colors took up a room as chairs were filled with shoes and yellow smiley balloons, welcoming people into Keystone Bluffs Assisted Living.
People laughed and smiled as they picked up clothes from the table, imagining what the fabric would look like on them.
The Loft in Duluth, a consignment shop located on Mall Drive, partnered with Keystone Bluffs Assisted Living on Thursday to provide free clothes to senior citizens and staff for their "Smile" event.
“It’s like a garage sale, but better,” said Natalie Zeleznikar, Keystone Bluffs Assisted Living CEO. “They don’t have to go outside, and it’s free.”
The Smile event is run by volunteers and is free for assisted-living homes that host it, according to The Loft’s owner Laurie Gillen. Everything was free and there was no limit on how much the residents and staff could get.
Gillen decided to start this event after seeing an elderly woman wearing the same blouse at a nursing home. She wanted to help bring new and free clothes to people who may not have the opportunity to go out and get them themselves.
“The event is a win-win situation,” Gillen said. “I have extra clothes from the store. This is also great for people donating their clothes, too, so they know that they’ll end up in a good place. We’re able to repurpose really nice clothes by doing this.”
The “new” clothes had the residents excited, too, as they helped each other pick out clothes, shoes and purses to make outfits.
Zeleznikar was excited to help bring this event to Keystone after The Loft had reached out to her about hosting this month’s event.
“I thought it'd be a fun thing to do and it has been a great thing for them,” Zeleznikar said. “And it just seemed perfect with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up. … The residents are so happy.”
One of these residents, Betty Cher, was excited about one specific silvery purple jacket that the staff helped her pick out.
“Look at this jacket,” Cher said with a laugh while playing with the lavender buttons. “It’s so pretty.”
That’s not all she had though. Cher had a stack of clothes sitting on her lap that she was ready to “check out” with.
“They did a great job with this event,” Cher said. “It’s pretty unusual to have all this nice stuff brought in. It’s so nice to shop for things while staying warm.”
The Loft puts on a Smile event every other month, and this was the third one. There isn’t a location planned yet for the next one, which will take place in January.
“If anyone else would like to have a Smile event, all they have to do is call me at The Loft, and we’ll make arrangements,” Gillen said.
More information can be found by calling The Loft at (218) 591-2762 or by visiting 1709 Mall Drive.