May 23, 2020 11:01 AM

Thrifters return in a big way after ARC in Hays reopens

Posted May 23, 2020 11:01 AM

Shoppers eager to return to local thrift shop after more then a month of being closed during COVID-19 precautions.

Kayla Swaney visited the ARC of the Central Plain Thrift Shop on Monday looking for items for her grandchildren.
Kayla Swaney visited the ARC of the Central Plain Thrift Shop on Monday looking for items for her grandchildren.

Hays Post

Oftentimes in life, it’s the little things, a cool breeze on a warm summer day, a lucky shot during one-on-one or the smile of a child.

For some, it’s finding a great deal at a local thrift shop.

After being closed for over a month during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ARC of the Central Plains Thrift Shop opened its doors on May 7 to crowds eager to get back to a small part of their normal lives.

“They are happy to be out and in one of their favorite spots.” said Kathy McAdoo, executive director.

After reopening. the shop was buzzing with activity.

“It was busy,” McAdoo said, “very busy.”

The phone was also ringing constantly asking if the shop was open — with most asking if they are taking donations.

“Everybody was spring cleaning,” said Sarah Meitner, ARC board president.

Staff at the shop used the downtime to deep clean and reorganize the store as well.

“They didn’t rest that month,” Meitner said.

“It wasn’t great to be closed and not have the business,” McAdoo said. “But it gave us an opportunity to get things done that would have taken us three or four times as long if we were open.”

After they reopened, donations also poured in along with shoppers, bringing truckloads cleared from homes as people attempted to make the best of being homebound.

But for many, the shop is more than just an outlet for goods. It can be a source of fun, whether searching for unique vintage items or just a good deal.

“They are having a ball. and it’s not costing them a lot. Where else can you go and you are not broke when you walk out?" McAdoo said.

And the people who are once again being welcomed into the store come from all walks of life.

“There is a story with every cart,” McAdoo said.

She recalls speaking with a customer from New York who made multiple trips into the store on a hunt for vintage goods.

Another filled cart with clothes toys and games for their children.

“We have a big variety of people that shop here,” McAdoo said.

Resellers, crafters and just people on the hunt for a bargain make their way into the store and they come from all around the area.

“They are not shy to travel,” McAdoo said.   

On Monday, Kayla Swaney visited the store looking for summer activities for her grandchildren who she would be babysitting over the summer.

“I look here first to see if I can get it cheaper,” Swaney said.

She has some concerns about shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic — but takes precautions.

“I have my alcohol (wipes), and I wear my mask as much as I can,” Swaney said. “I really don’t try to get out any more than I have too.”

While Swaney was on the hunt for low-cost activities, for others the thrift shop can be a lifeline to necessities.

The store works with a variety of nonprofits in the area including Options, DSNWK, Salvation Army and First Call in various ways, providing goods to people in need.

“There are people that need it and rely on it,” Meitner said.

And profits from the location also go towards a good cause.

“We’re unique in that the proceeds from our thrift store fund Special Olympics programming entirely here locally, but also other events,” Meitner said. “That money stays here.”

The direction to help the local community is another reason people come into the location.

“The fact that the money stays local is why you see what you see over there now,” Meitner said.