Nonprofit thrift store losing spot in Cove Terrace Shopping Center
By PAMELA GRANT
After years of helping the community, the Copperas Cove Optimist Club Thrift Store is asking for help from the community.
A February 6 letter from Quine & Associates addressed to the Optimist Club and Linda Makinson stated that the “landlord was terminating the Optimist Club’s use of 332 Cove Terrace and that the club has to remove all items by May 6.”
Quine & Associates is the company that manages the shopping center for Public Storage.
Public Storage, a nationwide company of storage facilities, has owned Cove Terrace Shopping Center as of December 2021.
Tanja Ridings, Thrift Store manager, said that the club had discussed signing a three-year lease for $500 a month with the property management company and had finished a massive revamping of their store over the Christmas holidays, re-opening in late January.
Prior to the discussions, the club had been allowed to use the space rent-free, but they were willing to pay the lease.
Then came the letter dated February 6 with the deadline to vacate the property by May 6.
When the club queried about why they could not sign a lease they’d been discussing, Jennie Snelling, Regional Vice President for Quine & Associates, wrote in an email that “in the time between discussing a lease with you and the Directors of Real Estate visiting the property, the people who make decisions, changed their minds."
Given such little time, the Thrift Store, run entirely through volunteers, is turning to the community for help, asking if anyone has a place or information on a place that could be the Thrift Store’s new home.
The club is looking for a place that is around 1,800 square feet or more.
If possible, they are asking for a place they can use for at no cost, and the owner can use the lease as a tax write-off. If not, they are looking for a place as cheap as possible so that they can continue to be as charitable as possible and keep helping people in the community.
Until they are able to find a new home, they are looking for a lot or place where they can store their current inventory so that they will not have to throw it away.
If there is a church or charitable organization that gives away winter clothing, the Thrift Store is looking for someone willing to take their winter clothes, so they don’t have to throw them out.
Ridings lamented the fact that they had just spent so much time and energy revamping the store only for the property owner to change their mind about the lease.
The volunteers have been looking for an alternative location but have not had any luck so far.
Linda Makinson, who volunteers regularly at the store and has been looking into other alternative locations said, “Our conundrum is that finding a space is so expensive. (Other places are) at least $2,000 a month…We can’t be the Thrift Store that we are if we had to do that. We’d have to raise our prices…Then we would be just like Goodwill. All of our money would have to go to overhead and we wouldn’t be able to give to families in need, and St. Jude’s, and the school, and all the other things that we support. We’re very sad and we don’t know what to do.”
The Thrift Store volunteers pride themselves on being able to provide the community with cheap, or even free, items, and they are sad that they may no longer be able to do that.
The Thrift Store has been an ongoing fundraiser for the Optimist Club, helping them donate to various charitable causes such as Blue Santa and St. Jude’s. They were able to provide Christmas to seven different families last year including trees, decorations, and gifts.
Ridings said that they have a lot of elderly customers, and people who come just to have a place to go to have people to talk with. They have others who come for the cheap prices that they cannot get anywhere else. They have people and families in need that they provide essentials for. Ridings said that life can happen, and people might find themselves in need, and they are able to donate to help them out.
Ridings added that they’ll miss getting to help out the children who come there for community service. She said that they like getting to show them that there are good people in the world who are willing and able to help out those who are in need out of the kindness of their hearts.
“It takes a village and now we’re needing help from the village,” said Ridings.
“Otherwise, we’ll just have to dissolve,” lamented Makinson. “I’m heartbroken.”
“If it wasn’t for them, there’s a whole lot of people who wouldn’t make it,” said Ramona Isles. Isles and her children previously volunteered with the store which had helped the family when they were in a time of need. “These ladies have worked way too hard for way too long.”
Store hours are currently Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. They accept credit cards as well as cash. The club is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit and is a chapter of Optimist Club International.
If you’d like to contact the Thrift Store with information about a new location or with help, feel free to text them at either (254)-781-9331 or (254) 206-1722.
The Club has also started a GoFundMe in an attempt to raise funds to purchase its own facility at https://gofund.me/ed1fd98f.