Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Map of St. Jude's Ranch for Children
100 St. Jude's Street, Boulder City
The one-story, Spanish Revival building is packed with clothing racks brimming with lightly used hats, shoes, purses, shirts, coats — even a few cocktail dresses.
But on closer inspection, the labels of many of the garments look like they’d be more at home at a high-end mall on the Strip.
Mixed in among the racks are designer labels such as Prada and Gucci, all at significant discounts. A Burberry dress shirt can be had for $10; designer-label leather handbags were priced at $20.
Staff at the ranch, off U.S. 93 near Hoover Dam, call the store one of the best-kept secrets in Southern Nevada, and it plays a crucial role in helping fund the organization’s efforts.
“If people are looking for great clothes at great prices, this is really the spot to be,” St. Jude’s Ranch CEO Christine Spadafor said. “The funds from here help us pay for necessities for the kids. Food, school clothes, you name it — whatever you need for your children, we need for ours.”
Founded in 1967, St. Jude’s Ranch provides a home to up to 66 abused, abandoned and neglected foster children, ranging in age from infants to 21.
In addition to providing funds to help operate the ranch, the gift shop gives teenagers living at the ranch a chance to get paid work experience.
Among the store’s best sellers are its recycled greeting cards, which are assembled for pay by residents at the ranch.
“It’s part of a work-training program. We’re helping them learn how to get a job and keep a job,” Spadafor said. “We want them to get that experience here so that when they go to a typical part-time job for a teenager, they know what is expected of them when they get there.”
Donations to the store come from a variety of private donors and businesses, Spadafor said. Goods are sorted at an on-campus warehouse and screened to make sure the clothes are in good condition before making it to the gift shop. Some of the donated clothes go to residents living at the ranch; those that can’t be used are donated to other local nonprofit organizations, Spadafor said.
In addition to the gift shop, the ranch funds its operations through events, in-kind donations and corporate and private giving.
Cindy Harris, chief development officer at the ranch, said the gift shop, along with the historic chapel and car museum also on the campus, provide a way to draw people in and teach them about St. Jude’s mission.
Many of the shoppers turn into donors, and some go on to become volunteers, Harris said.
“We’re local; we take care of the kids here. What they spend here stays in Southern Nevada for these kids,” she said. “The gift shop is a way for us to connect. It’s a welcoming place for the community. This ranch has been here for 45 years, and if not for the community, it wouldn’t still be here.”
The St. Jude’s Ranch gift shop is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.