‘A second life’ for America’s Thrift Stores

TZP Group and Nuveen worked together to recapitalise a secondhand discount retailer that aims to support local charities.

The finances of a retail chain that sells used clothes, household goods and which bills itself as “not your mama’s thrift store” are being restructured through a deal with TZP Group and Nuveen.

TZP, a private equity firm managing $2 billion in assets, and Nuveen, the investment manager of TIAA, partnered on a majority recapitalisation of America’s Thrift Stores, a company based in Birmingham, Alabama selling donated items at discount rates throughout the southeast US. A statement said the backing will support the expansion of America’s Thrift, including an e-commerce operation.

The investors did not disclose financial terms of the deal. Nuveen invested from its global impact fund, while TZP invested through its generalist private equity strategy.

“America’s Thrift creates a second life for products that would otherwise become waste in landfills while also serving its local communities,” Justin Kulla, a TZP partner who leads impact investing and ESG, said in a statement.

America’s Thrift collects clothing such as women’s coats, hats and scarves, and children’s shoes, as well as items like kitchenware and electrical appliances, at 2,500 donation sites. It then resells those items at discounts of up to 70 percent.

The for-profit company has 24 stores throughout the southeast US, in places like Biloxi, Mississippi and Double Springs, Alabama, a town of around 1,000 where more than a quarter of residents live below the poverty line.

Founded in 1984, America’s Thrift is led by president Timothy Alvis, an US Army veteran who started at the company 36 years ago as a manager trainee.

The company donates part of its profit to charities supporting children’s health and addiction recovery, including Make-A-Wish Alabama and Adult & Teen Challenge Mid-South. America’s Thrift has set a goal to donate $100 million to these charities over 10 years.

“The future for America’s Thrift is bright not only because of its business potential but also because of its impact potential,” TZP’s Kulla said.