Carolyn Moore, store director, with volunteer Carmen Holt and store employee Carl Hagan in the book section.
The CAV thrift store opened over sixteen years ago to provide an ongoing funding supply to the nonprofit agency Community Against Violence, Inc. (CAV).
The store offers bargain prices on second-hand, new and donated goods.
The money generated by the sales pays the employees’ salaries and also for classes, advocacy and support programs available to the CAV shelter residents, says managing director Carolyn Moore.
“We give the victims of domestic violence a new start in life,” she said. “This often means providing them with everything they need, from cooking utensils to furniture, and clothes for them and their children. Many flee their homes with nothing.”
The store has a system of vouchers that the shelter’s residents can use when they move on their own.
“This is a great hands-on service that impacts the community in many levels,” said volunteer Denice Weinberg. “In other cities these services are provided by state-run agencies but here nonprofits like CAV and Nonviolence Works are doing a great job.”
For Moore, thrift stores are “an unfortunate need.”
“And so we do our best to fulfill it,” she said.
They accept all sorts of donations, except for big appliances like washers, dryers and refrigerators. But they take small ones like electric fans, blenders and lamps.
Gently-used kitchenware, clothes, toys, books, and jewelry are welcomed too.
“Sometimes we get items that are totally new,” says Eva Concha, a store employee. “When you open a donation box, you get many nice surprises, like this beautiful piece.”
She points to a Virgen de Guadalupe statuette that came as part of a recent donation, accompanied by a well-preserved Nativity scene.
There is also a jewelry box brimming with chains, pendants, earrings and necklaces.
“This is like a continuous and mysterious yard sale—you never know what you are going to find,” said Weinberg.
And nothing goes to waste, Moore said.
When the store can’t sell some items, they are not thrown away, but placed in recycle bins and sent oversees to developing countries where there is a need for them.
Most people know Carolyn Moore as the co-owner (with husband Jay Moore) of Moby Dickens Bookstore, that they bought in 2012.
Originally part of the CAV Board of Directors, she was asked to fill in as the thrift store manager for a few months, until they found a suitable candidate.
“But I liked it so much that I resigned from the Board and applied formally for the job,” she said. “I was interviewed like everybody else and accepted for the position. I feel so blessed for it. This isn’t just a job, but a labor of love.”
The best part of working here is the camaraderie among the employees, said Moore. There are six staff members, counting her.
“Sylvia Romero is my assistant manager and we balance each other very well,” she said.
Eva Concha has worked at the store for three years. A native of Mexico, she helps many Hispanic clients who can’t communicate in English.
“People bring her food, sometimes more than once a day,” says Moore. “Everybody loves Eva!”
Carl Hagan has been with the store for two years and a half.
“He is an expert in electronics,” said Moore.
Bobby Gillio was hired four months ago.
“The people I work with are fabulous,” she said. “Everybody has a positive attitude, which makes this a great place.”
Volunteers are essential to keeping the store stocked and running, says Moore.
Denice Weinberg started shopping here because her son goes to a school nearby.
“I came so often that one day I decided to volunteer,” she said. “And I love it.”
Weinberg helps in a number of ways, sorting the merchandise, pricing it and moving it to the floor, but her specialty is books.
“I am a bookworm,” she said.
Other volunteers work with appliances, toys and art donations.
Carmen Holt loves to classify jewelry. A native Taoseña, she also helps Spanish-speaking clients.
The store keeps a long list of volunteers, but there are just five or six who show up consistently.
“Many come when we have a big project, like painting the store or reorganizing it,” said Moore. “And of course we appreciate that very much. But we still need more people, not just to help inside, but also to clean the surrounding areas. Picking up leaves and plastic bags and tidying up the space makes a big difference.”
Volunteers don’t need to have a fixed schedule.
“We are very flexible,” said Moore. “They can come and go at their own time. Just giving us two or three hours a week is a great help.”
The store also accepts financial donations.
The CAV thrift store is located at 1046 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur.
Phone: (575) 751-4824.