The Canby Kiwanis Thrift Store reopened this month, after being closed 10 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Club member Luana Hill, whose mother-in-law, Alta Hill, started the store almost 70 years ago with a few friends, said it was the longest closure in seven decades.
“The store has never had to close for 10 weeks,” Luana Hill said. “It has moved several times around town and closed once for less than a week to install carpet, but never had to close for 10 weeks.”
Store manager Alisha Orefice and assistant manager DeeAnna Sigler made the most of the downtime, adding needed improvements as well as implementing new protocols that would allow the store to reopen in line with the new social distancing guidelines and enhanced sanitary considerations.
Carpets were cleaned, new paint was put on the walls. In general, everything was touched and freshened up. Todd Gary, longtime Kiwanian and retired Canby Fire division chief, consulted several times to develop the store’s new traffic patterns and store capacity.
During the closure, the store was forced to lay off its entire staff with the exceptions of Orefice and Sigler.
“Alisha did a great job of communicating with employees during that time, telling them about changes and preparing them for how things would be different when the store reopened,” Hill said. “We have quite a few people who have worked at the store for many years, and our staff members have great attitudes and have shown great loyalty. They also care about the community and they love hearing how their efforts make all these great projects possible.”
The thrift store, which has been in its current location since 1989, is the chief fundraising vehicle for Canby Kiwanis and also helps needy families and other organizations with donations of clothing, books and household items.
The store helps fund the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which provides free books each month to 700 kids in the community, Friends of the Canby Public Library, the Canby Center, St. Vincent de Paul food pantry. Just this month, the club awarded $25,000 in scholarships to local graduating seniors.
And, of course, it is thanks to the store that the club is able to put on its “signature project,” the Canby Community Food & Toy Drive, which Hills expects to see its highest numbers ever this year due to the coronavirus economic crisis.
Hill said she knows the store is important to many Canby residents, as evidenced by the countless phone calls and even knocks on the door that the store received throughout the closure.
“Having the store has made it possible for Canby Kiwanis to help children and families in the community, and that’s what we’re all about,” Hill said. “A lot of our customers have a certain pride of ownership and a sense of being vested in the operation — and they should, because it is their donations and their shopping that make it possible for the store to make money that can go back into the community. The store really is a great example of ‘keeping it local.'”
The Canby Kiwanis Thrift Store is open new hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Customers now enter next to the garage door on the front of the store, where they are asked to wait to be greeted by a staff member (to ensure the store does not get too crowded).
Customers can take a sanitized shopping cart or basket and use hand sanitizer. All staff must wear masks, and customers are asked to do so.
New donation hours are generally 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the hours have been inconsistent so far due to the receiving area quickly becoming overloaded. A lot of people must have cleaned out their closets and garages during the stay-home order, Hill guessed. On opening day, June 1, the gates had to close after 20 minutes.
“The goal, of course, is to be open for donations nonstop, and staff is working as quickly as possible to process donations so they can receive more and keep things moving,” Hill said. “We are just so grateful for our wonderful store staff and it feels great to have them back.”