More Than a Thrift Store

by Kathy Marson

Thrift store staff:  Debbie Esselbach, Karen Drechsel, Pam Reoch, Shauna Cruttenden and Casty Cain.

Manager Pam Reoch checks out a customer. Notice the Free Take one Signs.

Bonners Ferry, Idaho, January 31, 2013 - A family of four, new to Bonners Ferry and struggling financially, hears through the local food bank they might get help through the Community Thrift Store. They go, they ask, and they receive $200 to pay the electric deposit needed for their move into a rental. Two years later, the family donates $800 back to the store.

A young mother, whose husband just become employed but will not get paid for six weeks, comes into the Community Thrift Store. She asks for help with her rent, but Pam Reoch, manager, says, “How are you doing for food?” The young mother starts to cry, so Pam gives her a voucher for $100 of food at a local grocery story. A few minutes later another lady comes into the store with a burden on her heart to donate $100 to the store.

A dad is in jail while the mother, home with a disabled child, has that knock on the door where her furniture is repossessed. She receives a couch from the Community Thrift Store.

Reoch says, “The more people we help, the more sales we make for the month. This way of doing business is our mission statement – ‘helping people in our community.’” When Foster parents come in to buy clothes for their foster children, they get them at half price.

The uniqueness of the Community Thrift Store continues. Their one-of-a-kind ministry in Bonners Ferry supports more than four full-time and two part-time employees. They also sent $1500 each month to the local Adventist school, besides their emergency fund to assist people in need. They wash every item of clothing so their store smells clean.

The Community Thrift Store has been operational since the 1980s and Reoch has been the manager for the past six years. Reoch was aggressive in reaching out to the local Chamber of Commerce, the Community Action Center and the local grocery stores.  She attends many of their meetings and through interacting with the community she feels the store has received more donations and has been able to help more people. “We get ourselves out there to let them know we’re here,” says Reoch. “One day a fireman called me to let me know there was a house fire. I can help families faster when local people know what we are doing.”

Perhaps the number one reason the Community Thrift Store is different is that Reoch has worship each morning with her workers and she tells them, “You may be the only Jesus a person sees today.”