When the Salvation Army thrift store closed, the Et Cetera Shop found themselves in a unique position — the only thrift store in town.
“At first that was totally overwhelming,” said store manager Leia Lawrence.
They are not the only place to take gently used clothing in Newton — the Agape Resource Center of east sixth gives clothing to those in need. But Et Cetera is the only thrift store in town selling donated items.
That has led to an increase in donations — a big one.
“We have hired extra staff,” Lawrence said. “We have recruited extra volunteers.”
And started a series of Saturday sales that will last through August.
Et Cetera has, historically, not accepted donations of furniture and appliances — Salvation Army is where shoppers and donors of those items have gone.
However, that option is no longer available. Lawrence said Et Cetera is considering an expansion into those items — but has not
officially made a decision.
“We are thinking seriously about it,” Lawrence said. “We are thinking creatively about recycling and reusing items. ... Our board is aware of the shift. It is an exciting opportunity to do new things in the community. We see an opportunity for growth.”
And not only growth in sales.
Et Cetera Shop provides a volunteer opportunity for those seeking one — whether they are Senior Corps volunteers or needing community service hours.
“We work with the alternative high school and with people who need to satisfy community service requirements,” said assistant manager Sarah Fleming. “We see our mission as being a more than a place to sell stuff. ... We’re looking at community building.”
The store’s proceeds are given to Mennonite Central Committee and support MCC efforts worldwide. In addition, Et Cetera has given money to local organizations —proceeds from the store’s  art program as part of Art in the Heart of Newton earlier this year were given to school art programs.
So far this year $80,000 has been raised for MCC.
An increase of donated goods is a good problem to have.
“The amount of merchandise we put on the shelves has increased by 10 percent over last year,” Lawrence said. “We have so many clothes and we need to push them out faster.”
Hence the recruitment of more volunteers, addition of staff, Saturday sale series and donating to the Harvey County Homeless Shelter.
“We treat our donations with integrity,” Fleming said. “People are attracted to the mission of our store.”