Friends of the Carpenter is closing its retail arm, 2nd Chance Thrift Store, as it addresses an expected budget shortfall for 2019.
The faith-based nonprofit informed volunteers during a meeting about a week ago and announced publicly Wednesday that the store would close. The store at 3414 N.E. 52nd St., in Vancouver’s West Minnehaha neighborhood, has been around nearly nine years.
“This decision was made very reluctantly. We’re sad to be closing down,” said Executive Director Tom Iberle.
Store sales have steadily declined since peaking in 2013 at $166,000. Last year’s sales reached a low of just over $115,000. Taking into account facilities, accounting and staff expenses, the store’s net revenue was just $16,000, Friends of the Carpenter said in a news release.
“It was getting less and less lucrative,” Iberle said, adding that they are thinly staffed and struggled to keep the store open.
Friends of the Carpenter’s mission is to “provide safety, structure and purpose for vulnerable members of our community” at its friendship center in west Vancouver, where people do woodworking projects. Iberle said that by closing the store, the nonprofit’s small staff can give full attention to its primary mission and address the budget shortfall by taking on more contracted projects.
Friends of the Carpenter recently built bunk beds for Lifeline Connections’ new Women’s Recovery Center in Vancouver — its largest contract ever, Iberle said. The nonprofit also built a communion table and large cross for the chancel at Vancouver United Church of Christ, which is reopening soon after being damaged by arson.
“And there’s more of that coming,” Iberle added.
Iberle said the vision for Friends of the Carpenter includes providing more life skills and vocational training and doing more “projects with a purpose.” He feels his nonprofit fills that niche well. If the nonprofit intends to expand, employees can’t be stretched between the store and the woodworking shop, Iberle said. He added that other factors behind the scenes led to the decision and that the nonprofit is looking at its income sources.
“It’s time to refocus,” he said.
Friends of the Carpenter has four full-time and four part-time staff members, including 2nd Chance’s store manager, who will be looking for work when the store closes.
For the first six years, 2nd Chance was all-volunteer run. The part-time manager was hired three years ago. Volunteers who work at the store are being encouraged to serve Friends of the Carpenter in other ways. With their retail experience, they would be a good fit for selling Friends of the Carpenter’s products at bazaars, particularly during the holiday season, Iberle said.
Saturday is the last day to donate items to the store. A closing sale will start Oct. 1, though how long it lasts depends on how quickly the store’s inventory is sold. Friends of the Carpenter’s partner agencies may make use of what’s left over, including store fixtures.
Iberle said he appreciates the community’s support of 2nd Chance from its founders who approached the board with the idea to open a thrift store, to its donors and shoppers.
“It was a place for people and neighbors to connect with each other. We’re sad to see that go,” Iberle said.