Community Thrift Store calls it quits after 28 years | NevadaAppeal.com
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Community Thrift Store calls it quits after 28 years

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Store manager JoAnne Baumgart, left, and volunteer Caroline Briggs have worked the counter this week at the Community Service Thrift Store. The shop closes its doors today.
STEVE RANSON / SRANSON@LAHONTANVALLEYNEWS.COM |

For those who have volunteered at the Community Service Thrift Store, today has a feel of Black Friday, not because of sales but after 28 years, the store is closing.

Store manager JoAnne Baumgart said during the past three years, the Community Service Thrift Store has been profitable for a fraction of that time.

“Only three months showed profits — Christmas,” said Baumgart as she began to explain why the store is closing. “We used all of our savings to helping people.”

Baumgart has served as store manager since 2006 and has been president of the Community Service Thrift Store for 19 years. When people heard of the closing, Baumgart said customers expressed their dismay.

“There’s been more people coming in here,” Baumgart said.

One such person who was in the shop on Wednesday was Kathy (who did not want us to use her last name). She was looking though the children’s clothes racks.

“I don’t like them closing,” she said. “I like coming here. It’s been really good to find clothing in good shape, sometimes it’s new. I’ll miss that a lot.”

Because of the dwindling donations and high rent, Baumgart said the volunteers — most of those in their 80s — voted to close the store.

“We had a really great crew to work with,” she said. “It’s been fun to work here.”

Five years ago only three thrift stores served Fallon. Now that number has tripled, said Baumgart, which has caused diluted profits for everyone. Combined with an expensive monthly rent at its 169 E. Center St., location, Baumgart said it was becoming more difficult for the Community Service Thrift Store to make a profit.

When the thrift store initially opened in an old one-story house on 495 S. Maine St., in March 1987, Baumgart said the rent cost the store only $200 a month. When the store moved to Center Street in another location, the rent more than tripled to $700.

“It doubled when we moved to our current building,” Baumgart said. “For $1,400, we couldn’t find anything cheaper for the size of the building.”

Since more stores have sprung up in the county, she said donations have also dipped.

Baumgart said customers who have been streaming into the store said Community Service Thrift Store would be missed. In 1987, Baumgart said the new thrift store was organized to help those in need. Over the years, the Community Service Thrift Store provided 3,285 families with financial assistance and many more families with clothing.

The Community Service Thrift Store also made an impact on those furthering their education after high school. During the past 28 years, the Community Service Thrift Store awarded $119,500 in scholarships to 118 graduating seniors and $20,000 in scholarship to 19 local students attending nursing schools.

For 25 years, trustee Pat Stephens headed the scholarship committee, ensuring deserved students received some financial assistance from the Community Service Thrift Store.

When the times were good, Baumgart said the thrift store handed out scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $2,000. Lately, those scholarships have amounted to $1,000.

“No one is helping the community like we are,” she said, adding she hasn’t seen many groups coming in to give scholarships, either.

As for the scholarships, Baumgart said parents and students have thanked the Community Service Thrift Store for their support; this year, though, no local students enrolled in the Western Nevada College nursing program applied for a scholarship.

Caroline Briggs has volunteered at the store for 14 years. Many volunteers have become good friends and are proud of what they have done for their neighbors.

“It’s been a pleasure to be at work and do something for the community,” she said.

Briggs has found solace in working with her volunteers and helping those in need, said Briggs, whose husband died in July.

After today, Briggs said she will move on to do volunteer work so she can be with the people and serve the community.