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Kingswood Introduces Online Thrift Store

The New Beginnings thrift shop will connect buyers with gently used products while helping area residents obtain job skills.

Community members will soon be able to find bargains on assorted goods through a new program that will help thrift store workers develop job skills.

New Beginnings is the name of the church’s new online store, which will allow shoppers to peruse gently used furniture, artwork, tools, sporting goods, electronics and other items that have been donated by community members. The online store, which is expected to open July 1, will include each item’s photo, description and price.

Shoppers can express interest in buying an item by email, and appointments will be scheduled for them to view the items in person and make a purchase. The items will be kept in a storage unit behind the church.

The charitable effort is being spearheaded by Buffalo Grove resident Chris Spaeth, a Kingswood member who is working with a team of volunteers to get the new program off the ground.

Originally, they hoped to open a thrift store in a local storefront, but financial hurdles and the growing number of secondhand shops nearby made them reconsider, Spaeth said.

“We kind of thought, already there’s a lot of competition out there, but we didn’t want to give up the idea of helping people,” she said.

Unlike other nearby thrift shops, New Beginnings will not accept or sell clothes or shoes. Among the items already listed on the website are $5 lamps, a $2 vacuum cleaner, a $75 ceiling fan, $5 inline skates, a $15 futon and a $50 dining room table.

“We kind of set our prices based on our experience at ,” said Spaeth, who added that volunteers also have researched prices on eBay and Craigslist.

“We’re not necessarily trying to make a profit. We’re just trying to get products into the hands of new owners,” she said. Any proceeds will help supply equipment for the church’s job skills ministry, which will offer internship-like positions to people with special needs or immigrants who need to gain U.S. work experience.

“We’re trying to reach these people who would otherwise be passed by,” said Spaeth, who added that the church likely will seek referrals from social service or employment agencies. The volunteer workers will learn how to clean and sort donations, write product descriptions and post photos on the thrift store’s website.

“Our goal is to involve them in every step of the process,” Spaeth said. The work will help build the interns' resumes, and the ministry will offer a letter of recommendation once they have completed their temporary job assignment, she added.

Thrift store donations can be dropped off behind from 10 to 10:30 a.m. on Sundays or by appointment on weekdays and Saturdays. Financial contributions also are welcome and are tax-deductible. For more information about shopping, donating or volunteering, visit newbeginningsthriftshop.org or email thriftshop@kingswoodumc.com.

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