Since 1999, Guardian Angel Thrift founder Laura Gaddis has been following her heart. Now that path has finally led her home.
After more than a decade of incredible success in Fuquay-Varina, Gaddis earlier this year opened Guardian Angel of Apex at 1510 N. Salem St. near US 64.
The thrift store donates all proceeds to Alzheimer’s North Carolina in a never-ending quest to conquer the terrible disease.
Since starting Guardian Angel 13 years ago, Gaddis has been able to donate an astonishing $1.4 million to the cause.
Opening the new high-quality thrift store in town was a special accomplishment for the Apex native. It was here she formed a wonderful bond with her mother, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 77 following a 12-year struggle with Alzheimer’s.
After caring for her mother and seeing the brutal effects of the heartless disease, Gaddis became determined to aid and promote Alzheimer’s research.
“My mother was an assistant to Dr. Stiles here in Apex and when she retired we noticed that she began to ask the same questions,” said Gaddis. “That is a symptom. From there, she went down hill and just followed pretty much the same route as others with the disease. She began hording all sorts of things in her pockets. It was terrible.
“Because of mom, I wanted to do something to help with research but to be a philanthropist you need a lot of money. I came up with the idea (of a thrift shop) one morning. It was given to me in the night and I just started writing it all down. It has been a success story.”
Gaddis wanted to base Guardian Angel Thrift in Apex but couldn’t find any available space. Her search took her to Fuquay-Varina where she opened a small store in the downtown.
The success of the business soon led to a second downtown store before eventually moving to a 26,000 square-foot building on Hwy. 401.
With the help of nearly 50 employees, volunteers and a supportive community, Gaddis has been able to donate about $200,000 to $300,000 annually in recent years.
“It’s been real successful,” said Gaddis. “People know about Alzheimer’s and usually everybody knows somebody who has it. It’s a very bad disease.”
Gaddis had always kept alive the idea of opening a store in Apex and when the opportunity finally arose she grabbed it.
Guardian Angel of Apex is located in a 2,000-square foot house with five rooms filled with merchandise. The “thrift unique boutique” houses all the best donations from the Apex area. Clothing and other merchandise not suitable for the store is sent to the Fuquay-Varina location.
“This is the very best of what we get up here,” said Gaddis. “We have all kinds of things for the ladies and some things for the men; a lot of home decorations and nice goodies.”
The return to Apex has been a sort of homecoming for Gaddis.
“I’m seeing a lot of the old home folks I knew when I was in school,” said Gaddis. “My kids went to school in Apex for a little while so I see a lot of those kids who are now in their fifties. It’s nice to run into those folks but there’s also many, many new folks here.”
Gaddis said she hopes she sees many more new and familiar faces as people either drop off their donations or shop in the store.
“We see new faces every day but I still need to get the word out about us,” said Gaddis. “We need folks to bring in their donations so we can turn it into money for Alzheimer’s. There are a lot of great non-profits out there but this (cause) is real special to me because of my mother. I think it would be special to a lot of other people who know people with Alzheimer’s. Research is the answer and that is what this money goes toward.”
For more information visit http://guardianangelthrift.org/