Kids grow quickly and today’s treasures become hand-me-downs before we know it. How many times have you seen your child come downstairs in the morning dressed for a flood? That’s right, ankles exposed under pants that fit just yesterday. In fact, didn’t you just buy those pants? The good news is that we have a local trading ground where children’s clothes and gear can be recycled to get a full life and where parents can re-stock without going broke.

Shopping at The Treasure Chest (TTC), Truckee’s own children’s resale store, is a great way to reduce stress on our wallets and on our environment. When we choose to shop locally we support our community’s economy while we reduce air pollution and oil consumption. A bonus in this case is that all of the profits from the Treasure Chest go directly into children’s educations programs at the KidZone Museum, an invaluable resource for the families of Truckee.

One of the most compelling things about Lisa Petrucci’s job (volunteer TTC Co-Chair, with Lizbeth Doving) is the number of ways in which their endeavor contributes to the good of the community and of the environment. Since they opened their doors in February 2006, The Treasure Chest has recycled over 100,000 items. In addition to the obvious recycling of products through second-hand item sales, they donate all unsold or well-used clothing to the Salvation Army in Reno, old blankets and plush toys go to the Humane Society and toys go to the Truckee Police Department, which the police then use to comfort children. Also, TTC recycles ‘voluminous amounts of batteries from donated toys and books at Ace Hardware to protect the environment,’ Lisa said.

Lisa is a self-proclaimed ‘big recycler’ and has a background as a supply chain consultant studying the effects of the manufacturing processes on our planet. ‘It is astonishing what it does to the environment,’ Lisa said. While things we purchase new may have a low price point, the real cost can be great. Many companies manufacture their products in foreign countries with lax environmental standards, in factories spewing pollution into the skies, land, and uwater. Buying used items helps counteract the detrimental effects of mass production.

Clothing is TTC’s most popular sale item with a huge inventory of 3 to18 month-old outfits. Toddlers and larger boys tend to be tougher on their clothes, so stock in those items is a little lower than their selection of girls’ clothing. They often sell new clothes, overstocks from other stores or last season’s fashions. Truckee Mercantile has recently donated several bags of beautiful new items. Additionally, TTC carries snow wear and gear. Second home owners frequently solve their problem of outfitting their kids for last- minute ski trips at The Treasure Chest.

Baby gear is also a big seller at TTC. Strollers and bouncy seats, high chairs and cribs can be purchased at a fraction of the new cost. Larger items such as nursery furniture can be put on consignment, and they have a running ‘wish list’ for people in search of specific items. If you’re in need of a double jogger, just put your name on the list and as soon as one shows up, they will call to let you know they have one in stock.

My kids love The Treasure Chest for its toys and books. Lisa painted a magical underwater mural on the walls of a cozy room at the back of the store (the Book Nook) where children can play safely (and out of the way) while their parents lose themselves in the often meditative pursuit of treasure hunting. All books cost 49 cents. They do sell high-quality, low-price, new toys by Melissa and Doug and Schylling Toys, so it is a great source for gifts as well as personal purchases. The best part, my kids think, is the free toy they get to pick out of the treasure chest when their parents make a purchase. They may not, yet, have any idea how we’re treasuring our environment and our resources by recycling unwanted items instead of sending them into landfills. But, by illustrating responsible consumption we will educate our children about the things that are really valuable.

The Treasure Chest is a thrift store, but their rent is hardly a bargain. They don’t get a lot of foot traffic, and rely heavily on word-of-mouth, advertising and on return customers. (A frequent shopper discount card is available.) They also depend on, and are most grateful for, their team of wonderful volunteers who staff the store, sort through donations and help to keep things running. (They do employee three part-time workers as well.)

TTC is looking for a volunteer to help specifically with marketing. If you are interested in helping out this worthy cause, contact Lizbeth Doving or Lisa Petrucci.

The Treasure Chest is located at 12030 Donner Pass Road in Truckee, across from the outlets. They are open 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday. On the last day of the month everything (except new and consignment merchandise) is sold at 50 percent off. Call 587-8732.