The decades-long relationship between the PTA Thrift Shop and the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools PTA Council is entering new territory.
For decades, the harmonious relationship helped get more money into local schools, but it has been strained in recent years as the amount of money coming to the individual school PTAs has declined as the thrift shop has expanded its mission.
That led to the PTA Council, a representative body of the individual school PTAs, sending a letter to the thrift shop Board of Directors on Monday requesting that the PTA Thrift Shop “immediately cease and desist the use of ‘PTA’ in the name of all of its operations.”
PTA Council officials wrote that the letter was sent “with heavy hearts” and that the representatives “did not take this vote lightly.”
“This request follows the CHCCS PTA Council attempts, beginning in August 2017, to obtain information about why PTA Thrift Shop cash disbursements to PTAs essentially ceased and why the decades-long relationship has changed,” read the letter.
The PTA Council and PTA Thrift Shop leadership met and went through mediation sessions to work toward finding a solution to continue their working relationship. Those conversations, the council wrote, led them to believe “funding the 19 CHCCS PTAs in any substantial way is no longer the primary goal of the PTA Thrift Shop, as it has been since 1952.”
The PTA Thrift Shop Board of Directors responded with a letter on Wednesday saying that the PTA Council “chose to withdraw from the mediation process before the issues could be fully disclosed. We invite you back to the mediation process in the interest of an amicable outcome.”
The thrift shop leadership wrote, “we remain committed to our mission of supporting children, their families and their teachers and schools through distributions to the PTAs, Project Impact grants, and other youth-focused initiatives.”
The mission of the PTA Thrift Shop has expanded in recent years to include project grants and providing workspace for youth-focused non-profits. The thrift shop recently opened a new facility on Main Street in Carrboro with the Youthworx on Main non-profit space opening on the lot adjacent to the thrift shop.
While PTA Council president Lisa Kaylie said they were aware cash distributions would stop for a period of time after the opening of the new facility, she said the distributions from the thrift shop were not coming back after the PTA Council believed it would be once again receiving the funds. That prompted the initial inquiry last August.
PTA Thrift Shop leaders wrote on Wednesday, “We have acknowledged and continue to share your frustration as to the lack of distributions provided to the PTAs since 2012, and are making every effort to re-establish these distributions.”
“The Board and Professional staff value our relationship with our primary partners, the PTAs, in supporting local teachers, students, and families as well as working to support school and youth-focused initiatives while maintaining the long-term sustainability of the organization,” the letter from the thrift shop board continued.
The PTA Council had asked that “PTA” be removed from all thrift shop signage by July 15, 2018, saying that the PTA Thrift Shop does not meet certain regulatory standards put forward by the National PTA.
“The term ‘PTA Thrift Shop’ is not copyrighted by anyone and our use of ‘PTA Thrift Shop’ for over 45 years has provided us with a common law trademark, allowing us to continue to use the name ‘PTA Thrift Shop,” the thrift shop board wrote. “However, our Board will take up your request at our June meeting and continue the discussion throughout the summer.”
In both letters, each side expressed optimism about continuing to work together in some form toward common goals of supporting local schools and children.