They say that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure — residents and visitors are quickly learning that the Community Thrift Shop by Lanai Union Church is loaded with an array of gently used household items, clothing and knickknacks. The thrift shop, which garnered a loyal following over the years, gained even more regulars when it moved into its new digs on Ninth Street last October. Every Thursday and Saturday, familiar faces and a few new recruits gather to explore the constantly rotating inventory.
“People say it’s like their Macy’s trip,” said Kay Okamoto, a longtime thrift shop volunteer, with a laugh. “It’s a fun thing to do every week. People come by to see the new things we’ve received or donate their old items. The new space gives us better visibility and accessibility. We’re easier to visit and open more often, so more people are finding out about us.”
Until recently, the thrift shop has kept a fairly low profile, and many would be surprised that it’s been around for nearly 20 years. A few dedicated members from the church started the thrift shop in 1996, and it survived out of a single-car garage behind the parsonage for more than 10 years. Once the Union Church rec facility was built, the thrift shop shared the larger space along with family activities, tutoring, youth groups, community meetings, and more. It was less than ideal because the items had to be packed up, moved around and unpacked on a weekly basis.
With a more permanent setup, items are sorted, priced and laid out throughout the week, allowing the thrift shop to be open an additional day. Crowds of 60 to 70 people show up to peruse the items on Thursdays and Saturdays. Devoted volunteers, led by Marie Caberto, run the entire operation, from ringing up purchases to tidying shelves, helping customers and putting out new items.
“There were a lot of advantages to moving to our new facility. Location, space, and the fact that we’ve been introduced to a lot more people,” said Okamoto. “We were also able to free up the Union Church rec facility to host other organizations for meetings and activities, so it’s positive for the whole community.”
Perhaps the greatest benefit of visiting the thrift shop is that all proceeds go directly toward supporting the community. Lanai Union Church organizes a number of youth activities, including tutoring and summer school, which are open to all Lanai keiki. The thrift shop also donates household items and clothing to Women Helping Women, a local charity helping victims of abuse.
Okamoto welcomes newcomers to come and check out the thrift shop at its new and improved location, open 1–3:30 p.m. on Thursdays or 7:30–10:30 a.m. on Saturdays. “We have tons of books, which are a customer favorite. We also recently added a ‘boutique room’ for new items, which has also been a hit with our customers,” she said. “The best thing about shopping here is that your purchases support youth activities and community groups — plus, you might find some one-of-a-kind treasures in the process!”
For those looking to do a little spring cleaning in their household, the thrift shop accepts donations during operating hours, or by drop-off at the old location behind Union Church parsonage. For more information or volunteer opportunities, call Lanai Union Church at 565-6902.