KILLEEN — As Staff Sgt. Maritess Keys’ two children approach their preteen and teenage years, she has amassed piles of used clothing and toys. She initially planned to send them to her family in the Philippines, but mailing costs were expensive.
“I thought, ‘What am I going to do? I feel terrible throwing them away,’” Keys said.
Keys found a home for the items when she took over a friend’s thrift store May 1. After returning to Fort Hood from Germany on July 23, Maritess and her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Steve Keys, opened Ganda’s Thrift Store and More at 1184 Kathey Drive, Suite No. 200, in Killeen beside popular lunch hangout Petty’s BBQ.
Ganda’s offers name-brand clothes for men, women and children, in addition to fashion handbags, shoes, books, toys, home decor and more.
“These are good, quality clothes,” Maritess Keys said. “We don’t want customers’ stains.”
The store’s name comes from the Filipino word for “beautiful.” The owners are seeking to challenge the stigma that thrift stores mean worn, secondhand merchandise.
“We’re trying to challenge the perception that secondhand means dirty,” Steve Keys said. “That’s what we want to get away from.”
But “name brand” is not synonymous with “expensive” at Ganda’s, as the couple aims to keep prices reasonable. A “free bin” sits near the counter at the front of the store, and for every purchase of $10 or more, customers can take three items.
“Once I was a young private that didn’t have anything,” Steve Keys said. “Now, as (noncommissioned officers), we see 19-year-old soldiers married with babies. We want them to come in here and not break the bank.”
After 19 years in the Army, Steve Keys plans to retire soon. Maritess Keys intended to end her six-year career in November until she unexpectedly received a promotion. But even once they’re out of uniform, the couple — who live in Copperas Cove — plan to stay in Central Texas.
“Hopefully the store will grow bigger,” Steve Keys said. “This is where we’re going to hang our hats.”