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A History
Of Service And
Eco Thrift newspaper clipping of Greg, the founder

The Eco Thrift story actually begins long before Eco Thrift itself. In 1947, Greg Ellison’s grandparents pioneered the private thrift store concept after a career of serving the less fortunate as Salvation Army officers.

In 1982, Greg and his father Robert opened Value Center in downtown Vallejo, California with two trucks, 10 employees, and a very small showroom. Over time, Greg and the remarkable crew of that first store improved the thrift store shopping experience by developing a highly focused merchandising strategy. By 1987, the 6,500-square foot Vallejo store was setting industry records in sales per square foot.

In 1989, Greg and his crew began managing a second store in Stockton, which his father had opened in 1962.

From the beginning, we’ve been on the leading edge of recycling, repurposing and reusing—wasting nothing that can be processed or sold. In 2005, we rebranded as Eco Thrift. The new name invited the public to embrace our values as well as the merchandise.

Eco Thrift now has six locations. We are the highest volume for-profit thrift store company in California. Over the years, we’ve continued to develop systems for increasing the amount and quality of goods we acquire, process and offer for sale, thereby delivering more value and satisfaction for our customers.

Eco Thrift store customer



Greg recruited Phyl Clempson, now COO, to the management team. She was key in implementing a people-first corporate philosophy driven by fierce values around the inherent dignity of our employees and customers.


We developed relationships with artists who create art from recycled goods. This validated and reinforced our efforts to find a purpose for practically everything we process.

After working with various agencies to include mentally challenged employees at our Vallejo store, the community honored us with several employer-of-the-year awards.


We opened our first Hayward store, and moved the Vallejo store to a larger location.


After rebranding as Eco Thrift, we adopted our mission statement: “We Deliver Values!”


By this time, we had promoted nine women to key management roles. We continue to provide opportunity for our employees by developing and promoting from within.

We moved our 6,200 square-foot Carmichael store to a 23,000 square-foot location in Citrus Heights.


We built our second Hayward store, replacing an 11,000 square-foot facility with 33,000 square feet of retail awesomeness. Its success has become a prototype for our future.


We opened our new 55th Street Sacramento store store. It is our largest store to date at 39,000 square feet.

We are immensely proud that our staff of over 500 people represent 33 nationalities speaking 20 different languages.