Posted on July 27th, 2015.

store front

Unearthing eclectic treasures and paying almost nothing for them is one of the most gratifying thrills of thrifting.

Safari Seconds, the non-profit thrift store operated by Alliance for African Assistance, is a treasure trove for avid bargain hunters, but it also serves the important role of furnishing homes and providing weather-appropriate clothing for new refugees being resettled in the San Diego community.

Since 2004, Safari Second’s manager Tracy Lamm has dedicated her time to helping out newly arrived refugees as they rebuild their lives. When asked what prompted her interest in the organization, Lamm stated that she lived in the neighborhood and was attracted to the idea behind it. “I really like the variety,” said Tracy, “the variety of people and things; it’s always different.”

For refugees, establishing a new home in San Diego is both a difficult and expensive endeavor, one which Alliance for African Assistance believes can go significantly smoother with the help of community members. After founding the organization in 1989, Walter Lam decided to further assist this laborious process by opening Safari Seconds in 1990.

Each week, Safari Seconds has three to four refugee families search for essentials in the shop. The thrift store is able to provide these refugee families with an array of necessities all free of charge because of generous donations from the San Diego community. While most families come in only seeking clothing, many end up leaving with extra linens, dishware, electronics and even furniture. Lamm stated that one of her favorite parts of working at the thrift shop is seeing the joy of the children. “I love seeing the kids. They are essentially getting a free shopping spree and they are so happy; it’s really special to see.”

With one of the top donators being an estate liquidator, Safari Seconds is always full of great finds. Prices, for the public, start at 25 cents up to hundreds of dollars, depending on the value of the item.

The thrift store also offers refugees an opportunity for employment. The store setting allows them to gain insight into retail practices and apply their English in a professional environment, which helps to further their abilities and marketability in the competitive San Diego job market.

Located at 2875 El Cajon Boulevard, Safari Seconds has been an important resource for the San Diego refugee community for 25 years. Each year, Safari Seconds aides the resettlement process of over 1,000 individuals. Safari Seconds openly accepts donations 7 days a week, so if you’re interested in helping, please call 619-282-4218 to schedule a pick-up or drop off.