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News / Clark County News

Woodland Action thrift store serves many purposes in town

Volunteer workers develop job skills, help their community

By Justin Runquist, Columbian Small Cities Reporter
Published: January 11, 2015, 4:00pm
3 Photos
Hallie Davidson, manager at Woodland Action Thrift &amp; Gift Store,
Hallie Davidson, manager at Woodland Action Thrift & Gift Store, Photo Gallery

WOODLAND — When Hallie Davidson lost her job with the U.S. Forest Service last year, she found a new calling, volunteering to help launch Woodland Action’s thrift store.

And so far, it’s been a life-changing experience, Davidson said.

“It’s just very rewarding to be able to help and find things for people,” said Davidson, who now runs the store. “I’ve lived here 20 years, but I never spent any time in the community until this year.”

The nonprofit food bank and community service center opened the Woodland Action Thrift & Gift Store last year with the mission of helping those in need, like Davidson, develop job skills on their way to something bigger down the road. Dozens pitch in every month to help run the place, meanwhile learning to use a cash register, manage inventory in the stock room and sell antiques, clothing, everyday essentials, or any of the other odds and ends adorning the store’s shelves.

So far, no one works for money at the all-volunteer thrift store. Instead, they earn vouchers, called Action Bucks, which knock down the price of their purchases inside the store, said Susan McAdams, a spokeswoman for Woodland Action.

For some, like Dawn Pierson, the place presents a flexible work schedule and an opportunity to help the community while raising children. When her kids have grown up, Pierson says, she’ll be able to re-enter her previous line of work in hospice care with a new range of professional skills.

“Between doing paperwork, organization and putting things out, I mean, we kind of get the gamut of different skills,” Pierson said.

Woodland Action has been in operation as a food bank for more than a decade. But with a limited budget and growing maintenance costs for the aging facility, it was critical the organization expand its revenue sources, McAdams said.

“It was struggling along and was managing to hang on by its fingernails on about a $25,000-a-year budget,” she said. “Maintenance on the building has suffered because of a lack of cash. We can’t let that go on anymore.”

The store opened about five weeks ago, enjoying a nice holiday season sales bump right off the bat. But McAdams is hopeful sales will remain high throughout the year. If that happens, Woodland Action’s annual revenue could increase several times over, she said.

“Certainly, raising cash, raising income was important,” McAdams said. “But the other thing was it’s just as important to the (Woodland Action) board that it is a vehicle for us to be able to provide job skills and work experience to our clients.”

In addition to the food bank and the new thrift store, Woodland Action’s board of directors also plans to soon begin offering classes on budgeting and other essential skills for those in need, McAdams said.

Columbian Small Cities Reporter