Fifteen months is an awfully long time to be closed and still try to keep in touch! The good news though, is that we are coming out on the other side of this pandemic and getting closer to being able to get back together as a Center! We know you are wondering: “when will the thrift shop open more?” and “why isn’t the Center open yet?” Let me attempt to answer.
Because the thrift shop plays a huge part financially in our ability to stay open and provide services to our seniors, the focus of our small staff and myself, shifted to opening the shop on a limited basis despite the management roles being vacant. Fridays and Saturdays are all we can manage right now. Another full day is devoted to sorting and pricing the items that came in on the weekend so that we can start fresh again on Friday. We are so thrilled to have the shop open! The two days of shopping are a fun and exciting experience for all of us, and more importantly our customers! Our goal will be to open more eventually as we have staff and volunteers to do so.
The Center has been a busy place despite being closed. We have focused our efforts to providing essential needs to seniors, and in our partnership with Camano Fire Department to host the COVID vaccination clinics. As the vaccination needs decrease, the space will be open again for Center activities. Although we would love to just flip a switch and resume everything that was happening in 2019, we cannot accomplish that. We will need to slowly bring back essential programs, rentals, and social groups.
Because COVID restrictions are still a moving target, the way we schedule groups into the building will need to change. We want to be smart about how we do this and there are many unknowns still…Do we require masks? Do we require proof of vaccinations? What do we do if someone is not masked or vaccinated? How many people can participate? It is all new to us, so please be patient with us as we try to do the best thing possible for everyone involved.
In addition to the health and safety of everyone coming into the center, there is the reality of what it costs to run the organization. We have been able to keep essential needs going for over a year with a few part-time staff, because of generous donors and grants. Moving forward though, we need to work on a sustainable income stream to fund the programs and to support rentals and social groups.
Our goal throughout the past year has been to come out of the closure as a stronger non-profit and a stronger community. We have accomplished this, and we are eager to keep working towards offering the programs and activities that our community relies on us to provide.
In the coming weeks and months, we will slowly be opening programs, then events and rentals on a small basis, and eventually the social groups. Once we formulate a plan to staff and be able to financially support each activity, you will hear about it.
We could not do what we have done this past year without you and your generosity in time and money. Your support of the Center and the Thrift Shop is beyond amazing! I’ve said it before, and it warrants repeating, we thank you from the very bottom of our hearts!
Bonnie Eckley—Executive Director
Last month I was able to report to you that we opened the store again on March 12th. We are now going on our 8th week of operations and things are really clipping along! I get a lot of questions about the store, so I thought I would answer some of them in this month’s newsletter. I have learned a lot about what it takes to maintain the daily/weekly influx of items and people, by working at the store so I feel much more capable of answering inquiries than I did when I first started!
Why is the Executive Director running the store? During the COVID shut down, many plans were put on hold or changed for many people. This includes the Manager, Assistant Manager, and staff of the thrift shop. As the director it became my responsibility to make the decision to open or not, and to get in and learn and run the place with mostly volunteers in-order to recover financially. This has been difficult, but invaluable to me as the director.
Why are you only open Fridays and Saturdays? For each day open it takes a minimum of 10 volunteers to cover the 2 shifts (10am-1pm and 1pm -4pm). In addition, my goal is to process all the donations coming in each day, before the day is complete. This takes another 8-10 volunteers to sort, clean, price and re-load the store floor. Some volunteers have chosen not to return due to COVID, or have moved on to other ventures. Bringing new volunteers in is a process that takes time.
Do I still need an appointment to bring my donations to you? No. We are no longer taking donations on an appointment basis. We take them on the days that we are open. Fridays and Saturdays 10am-4pm.
Why aren’t you accepting clothing? On occasion you will see signs that say “no clothes” or unfortunately, “no donations”. My goal by having the processing happening during the open days, is to no longer have to say “no donations” (and we haven’t since being open) but right now we still have a back log of unprocessed clothing and linens that go back a long time. We need to clear it before just adding to the top of it again. The next important step is selling the items out on the floor, or we cannot continue to put more out. You will notice if you come in, that all clothing in the older building is $2 per piece no matter what it is…coat, 3 piece-suit, or jeans…$2. This is our hope to move clothing fast (which means you get a great deal!) so we can continue to take more and put more out.
Why don’t you just hire people so you can be open more, and make more money? The store used to be open 6 days a week which takes a tremendous amount of labor and planning (and higher expenses such as PUD, water, etc.) In being open a limited number of days, we are working smarter, not harder.
Currently the store is making more revenue in 2 days than it did in 8 days. The store is a non-profit that funds a big portion of the Camano Senior Services Association so this is a very important piece of the overall puzzle. Everything we save in expenses is more that we can invest in the programs and services to our community.
How can we help? This community is amazing. I hear this question more than any other! You can help by volunteering. You can help by spreading the word about the store and the center. You can help by donating items that we can feel good about passing onto someone else. (We unfortunately have a big garbage/dump bill to dispose of items that are broken, dirty/stained, or flat-out trash. This hurts our bottom line the most), and you can help by shopping! You will be amazed at the store and how the items are new each day and priced to sell! For every load of yucky stuff, we get 5 loads of amazing things!
Thank you to the amazing group of volunteers and staff that have put in so many hours to help me get the store open and continued to run safely and efficiently. We have a fantastic group of men and women that do such important work!
Our shopping and donating hours are Friday and Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm. Masks are mandatory to enter. Thank you for shopping and donating! Come in and see us!
606 Arrowhead Road
Camano Island, WA 98282
Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
2nd Chance Thrift Shop
1335 State Route 532
Camano Island, WA 98282
Friday & Saturday
Until we are full for the day