A thrift store with a purpose

Colfax Community Gift and Thrift Store addresses the transition from homelessness to stability
By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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The Colfax Community Gift and Thrift Store

  • Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday - Saturday
  • Location: 130 North Main St., Colfax
  • Info: Visit Facebook and search “Colfax Community Gift and Thrift”

The Colfax Community Gift and Thrift Store is now open and has been celebrating its grand opening throughout the month of July. The store’s purpose, in addition to providing Colfax with a place to shop for discounted items, is to generate revenue to support the homeless. The nonprofit relies solely on donations from the community.

“The store has received great enthusiasm and applause by locals,” said Sunny Ricks, store manager. “Many are saying it looks much different from the former thrift store in the same location they had shopped before.”

Business partners Gary Mapa and Greg Zaller took on this project with the purpose of addressing homelessness and creating more housing for those without a place to live. Several local residents have contributed to the cause including Debi How, Suzi Mangiante and Co-Living Network Program Director Jennifer Gomes.

One of the store’s volunteers, Dee Dee Hoffman, said working at the thrift store gave her a reason to strive for a better life.

Hoffman’s story is one of addictive drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and homelessness.

“I didn’t know how to go about getting any kind of help,” Hoffman said.

In 2015, Hoffman was living near Reno in her boyfriend’s car. Hoffman said her boyfriend was dealing methamphetamine and they were both using. In an attempt to make some money, they decided to bring several bags of bottles and cans to California where they could get a higher recycle value.

It was snowing while they drove over Donner Pass, and Hoffman’s boyfriend got into an accident. At a truck stop in Dutch Flat, Hoffman called 911 and the responders told Hoffman the closest hospital was in a town called Auburn. When she was released from Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Hoffman found Right Hand Auburn and stayed for nine months.

“I had forgotten my boyfriend’s phone number which ended up being the best thing for me,” Hoffman said.

While at the shelter, Hoffman met Mapa and Zaller who encouraged her to attend AA and Beyond Recovery meetings.

“I had a feeling they might be able to help me,” she said – and she was right. Mapa and Zaller told the attendees of the meetings about a thrift store they were opening in Colfax and the opportunity to volunteer and gain work experience.

“I realized there’s potential there and I’m not going to be out on the streets again,” Hoffman said. “I love it. It helped me not stay in that depression, and now I’m so happy every day.”

Hoffman said she has been clean and sober since Dec. 25, 2015, due in part to the three weekly meetings of self improvement required by the shelter.

“It’s really changed my life,” she said.

“Many have come in and been delighted, so we just want to extend that feeling to more people in and around Colfax and the surrounding area,” said Leslie Mapa, associate and partner with Colfax Community Gift and Thrift Store. Leslie said that one misconception the public may have is that this store is still under the same management as the previous thrift store that occupied the location. However, the store has changed hands from the former owners and is a 501c3 nonprofit under Creative Learning Adventures, part of the Co-Living Network.

Changes were made to the building including a fresh coat of paint and the removal of some existing walls to create more retail floor space. The inside of the building is now spacious and clean with clearly marked, organized sections.

“We wanted to maximize the potential of the building and truly have an abundance of thrift store items,” Ricks said.

Most of the products sold are used items donated from family homes. Leslie said the conditions of items for sale are always clean and re-sell quality, and electronics are tested before stocked. Items in the store include household items, books, gently worn clothing, toys, games, sporting goods, gifts and more. Every first Saturday of the month, customers will receive 50-percent off all purchases. Select items will be advertised online as well.