COPPERAS COVE — Retail stores in Texas were given the green light to re-open their establishments after an unprecedented shutdown that lasted more than a month due to COVID-19 pandemic. Being closed, retailers can’t pay their bills. But, they are not rushing to reopen without focusing on the safety of their customers and staff.

A sign encouraging all customers to wear masks while in the Copperas Cove Optimist Thrift Store hangs on the front door. The volunteer staff are all wearing face coverings. But, the volunteer-driven business was in desperate need of additional volunteers to help it get back on its feet and ready to host customers during a soft re-opening over the weekend.

Junior Miss Five Hills Hayley Sawyer and her family answered the call and were waiting in front of the store when it opened on its first day since the pandemic closed it. They stayed busy shelving items, unpacking donations, hanging clothing and overseeing racks of items outside the store. The sidewalk sale was a clear indication to passers-by that the store was open for business once again.

“This store helps those in the community who are low-income and with so many people being out of work right now, reopening the store was a blessing to help those people,” the 9 year old said. “Not only does the Optimist Thrift store help everyone who comes in by providing low cost items, but all of the profit goes to charity.”

Many Texans are eager for economic activity to return as more than 1.5 million people across the state had filed for unemployment by the end of April. People’s disposable income for spending on things like shopping and eating out will be lower.

“We didn’t have as many volunteers because of the virus,” said Optimist Club member Susan Ayers who volunteers every day that the store is open and in between preparing items for sale. “The community is so blessed to have Hayley and her family. She, her mother and sister worked hard and did so much. We will be keeping all the money in the community.

”The Sawyer family volunteered at the store many times prior to COVID-19.

“Volunteering is always so much fun, organizing all of the clothing, sheets, and special items. I was even preparing small bags of toys for children who otherwise, may not be able to have something new to play with during the quarantine. Those sold within the same hour of putting them on the shelf,” Sawyer said. “The volunteers that run the store really care about each person who comes in and take special care to make sure everything is at its best. Everyone should go and see how amazing this store really is.”

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