Vail Valley Thrifty Shops now open; Habitat ReStore open to online shopping on May 1
Thrifty Shops kept paying their roughly 25 employees through nearly six weeks of being shut down
Those who have been cleaning closets and garages the past few weeks have been left with nowhere to donate their clean, but unused items. That’s changing.
The Thrifty Shop locations in Eagle and Gypsum opened Monday, albeit with new hours and rules.
The shops are open only to employees between 9 a.m. and noon Monday through Saturday. Customers are allowed in the stores between noon and 6:30 p.m. Complying with rules that only 10 people can gather in one place at a time, the stores will always have two employees and no more than eight customers in the stores at any time.
“We’re excited about it,” Vail Valley Cares director Greg Osteen said. Vail Valley Cares is the nonprofit that runs the Thrifty Shops. Revenue from the stores is donated every year to local nonprofit groups.
Paying the people
Several months’ worth of revenue from the shops came in handy this year. Osteen said Vail Valley Cares continued to pay its roughly 25 employees for nearly six weeks after the Thrifty Shops closed March 17. For about a month, payroll expenses were covered by Vail Valley Cares revenue. The nonprofit also applied for, and received, federal Payroll Protection Program funds. That covered payroll for another few weeks.
Because those employees would be needed when the store reopened, “We ended up paying people so they wouldn’t have to go on unemployment,” Osteen said.
Taking care of the stores’ employees means Vail Valley Cares will have less to provide to other nonprofits this year.
Osteen estimated this year’s funding will be about $200,000 instead of the usual $300,000 or so.
In addition to having only eight shoppers at any time, Osteen said the stores also have bottles of hand sanitizers placed throughout the stores. Customers and employees alike must wear masks.
Osteen said he and his board talked about quarantining donated items. But, he said, current thinking indicates the virus doesn’t last long on clothes and other items.
Besides, he added, “a lot of this has been quarantined in people’s garages for a while now.”
An online thrift store
Eagle’s Habitat ReStore, the retail outlet for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, hasn’t reopened yet, but will on May 1. Like the Thrifty Shops, the ReStore will operate under new rules for some time.
Julie Kapala, the communications and marketing manager for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, said the ReStore will largely be an online operation as it reopens. People will be able to select and pay for items — furniture, art, windows, doors, cabinets and more — through the store’s website. Customers will then schedule a time to pick up their items, which will be sitting outside the store.
Kapala said the web inventory will also be posted on the nonprofit’s social media channels, and will include lots of photos and measurements.
“This is something ReStores nationwide have been doing for a while, and we’ve been looking at it,” Kapala said. “This is an opportunity for us to innovate … we have a great following online thanks to our email list.
“We’re putting a lot of effort into it,” she added.
The store isn’t doing any donation pickup right now, but people can schedule drop-offs at either the ReStore location or at a unit that’s been donated by Friendly Self Storage in Gypsum.
There’s a disinfectant process in place for all donations, Kapala said. “We’re proceeding with an abundance of caution,” she added.
Starting May 6, the ReStore will open to in-store shoppers, but by appointment only.
And both Kapala and Osteen said they’re expecting a lot of donations to come in.
“I was getting five calls a day,” about donations, Osteen said. “We asked people to save it, and get (items) to us when we open back up.”
Looking ahead to what’s certain to be a flood of donations, Osteen acknowledged “It’s going to be crazy, but we’re going to do the best we can.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.