KidZone Museum plans children’s thrift store
Parents looking for a good deal on children’s items may soon have a place to shop – without having to drive to Reno.A committee from the KidZone Museum has devised a plan to bring a volunteer-staffed children’s thrift store to town. They said they hope the shop will bring resources to the community and revenue to their nonprofit program that can help to fund the building of a new permanent facility. “There really isn’t any [store] for kids here, especially since the toy store closed,” said part-time Truckee resident Michele Tobin. “And there are times when you have toys in good condition and just don’t know what to do with them.”
The planned thrift store would welcome donations of used children’s clothing, books, toys, and equipment such as cribs, strollers, and car seats in return for tax deductible receipts. “The idea was thrown out at a meeting and several of us jumped on it,” said Lizbeth Doving, the vice chair of KidZone. “We all have young children and there isn’t a shop in town that sells good, affordable clothing for children, other than the Treehouse, but they are higher end.””We are hoping that this venture will bring in good funds to help with our operating costs,” she said.The KidZone sees more than 13,000 visitors a year and the current facility has a maximum capacity of 60 a day. The organization is hoping to raise their own funds for a new building between 9,000 and 12,000 square feet that would have exhibits focusing on community, health, hands-on education in science, history, art and culture, said KidZone Director Carol Meagher.
KidZone chairwoman Kristi Darzynkiewicz is currently writing a business plan to pitch to local merchants in an effort to secure an initial facility, where rent would be donated or low-cost. “Right now we are looking at start-up costs around $15,000, but so much of it will depend on our rent,” Darzynkiewicz said. “We would love a space between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet, but if we can get free rent, we would take something around 1,000 square feet at minimum to start.” Doving and Darzynkiewicz both said this venture would be a win-win situation for the community and the KidZone Museum, especially since the Tahoe Forest Hospice in Truckee carries a limited selection of children’s wares.Eileen Knudson, executive director of Tahoe Forest Hospice, said she also sees the KidZone thrift store as a positive asset for the community, though she cautioned the group that thrift store operations can be quite difficult to manage since a large pool of volunteers is needed to keep the business running smoothly.
“It took us a year to do the ground work before we even opened our store,” she said. “We really spent a lot of time and effort developing volunteer rolls because we could not afford to run this business without them. The most important piece is finding a group of dedicated people, and you have to have a huge bank of them.”Darzynkiewicz said she anticipates needing 46 hours per week of volunteer labor, as the committee intends to open their doors six days a week, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. “We also need fixtures, cash registers, high quality donations, and free advertising,” she said. With the right planning and timely donations, Darzynkiewicz said she hopes to have doors open within six months.
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