• October 26, 2016

Thrift shop undergoes changes, remains a community space

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Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 4:30 am

The Fort Hood Area Thrift Shop reopened Feb. 4 after more than a month of renovations.

During that closure, staff and volunteers weren’t resting on their laurels—they were completing the work themselves.

Open since 1979, the shop was overdue for a face lift.

“We buffed, cleaned and waxed the floors and painted everything,” said Tina Berger, head cashier. Staff also rearranged the shop. Furniture is now in the back, with clothing up front and center.

The new arrangement is geared towards people with disabilities, with more space allowing for easy maneuvering between aisles.

For Berger, the best part of reopening was seeing all the loyal customers return.

“We get a lot of hugs, it’s like old home week,” she said. The best part of her job is serving the military community, she said. “It’s all about giving back.”

Berger is a military spouse herself, of the past 14 years. Her husband will retire in the next few months after 26 years of service. Together, they are renovating their own project — the house they bought in Killeen last year.

When the shop closed on Dec. 21, all remaining merchandise was donated to area thrift stores.

“We’re priced a lot better this year. (Items) are priced to sell, not sit on the shelf,” Berger said. Staff have received enormously positive feedback from customers on the lower prices and new look.

The thrift shop is like a community, said staff person Beate Taylor.

“Most of our customers are regulars,” she said. Taylor often communicates with them in her native Polish and German.

Taylor volunteered at the shop for eight years before being hired as an employee. After working two years, she left to attend dental assistant’s school. She is now back in the shop following the reopening.

“I love (the renovations). It’s more clean and open. We did a great job as a team,” Taylor said.

The shop currently has about six staff members, but its more than 50 volunteers are the true backbone of the operation. Many have worked there for decades, Berger said.

Hector Zeno has volunteered nearly 40 hours a week at the shop since 2008, following 26 years of Army service.

“I like helping other people. We have a good team going on,” Zeno said.

Zeno was instrumental in the renovations, said assistant manager Dino Jones.

In total, staff and volunteers spent 114 hours renovating, Jones said. “We moved furniture, stripped, waxed and buffed them,” Jones said.

He and Zeno completed the work together.

“My time is for them,” Zeno said of the military community, and the thrift shop staff make it easy. “We get along great. It’s a wonderful place,” he said.

Aside from the visible changes to the shop, technology updates brought it into a whole new era, with the implementation an advanced security system and a new consignment system.

Berger encourages donations to the store as it continues to replenish its inventory. “Consignments are the heart of the store,” she said, and the proceeds go directly back into the local community. In 2013, area nonprofits received more than $76,500 in charitable donations from the thrift shop.

The American Red Cross, USO and USO Fort Hood each received more than $5,000 in donations. The Greater Killeen Free Clinic and Fort Hood Volunteer Child Care each received $10,000, and Fort Hood Scholarship Fund received $30,000 in donations.

The Fort Hood Thrift Shop, 50003 Clear Creek Road, is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday. Consignments are accepted from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday and by appointment on Saturday. Call 254-532-2948.

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