arc Thrift Comes to Longmont

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Longmont's new arc Thrift Store (Photo by Suzanne McBride/ Longmont Observer)

arc Thrift Store opened its 29th store on April 8th in Longmont in the old K-Mart space at 2151 N. Main St.

“We’ve been trying to come to Longmont for a long time,” said Ken Wagner, General Manager of the store.

arc celebrated a ribbon-cutting on April 11th, after a soft opening several days earlier. “We got a warm welcome from the community,” Wagner said, adding that the checkout lines during the soft opening averaged sixty to seventy people long, and curved around the store.

arc sells just about everything from furniture to jewelry, with an emphasis on clothing. Showing off a long wall of purses, Wagner says, “it gets the women in here. Ladies clothes are our biggest seller.”

When asked what makes arc different from other thrift stores, Wagner said “our mission and our support for the community, as well as selection, organization, and cleanliness.  Also, there is a discount every single day of the week.”

Wagner also stressed that every item finds a home; clothing that is not sold gets recycled and shipped to Africa, Central America, and other countries.

arc is a Colorado-owned and operated nonprofit that opened their first store in 1968. The chain has grown to 29 stores, with Longmont’s being both the newest and the largest, boasting over 40,000 square feet. “Not every store has the luxury of the space we have,” said Wagner.

Profits from arc Longmont fund the Association for Community Living (ACL) Boulder County. ACL helps people with disabilities such as Down Syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy find jobs, find places to live, and obtain support in the schools.

“Our mission is what drives our business,” Wagner said. “When you shop here, you support some individual in this community.” The store employs three disabled persons, or ‘ambassadors.’

Longmont’s store processes 7,000 donated items every weekday and has fifty employees, most of whom are new to the company. Longmont donations stay in Longmont, and everything is sold in the store with nothing held back.

Wagner pointed out the streamlined drive-up donation area on the south side of the building. Customers pull up, get greeted, and leave their items, which are then sorted into categories and processed.  

“The donor is where it starts,” he said, adding that there is an attendant on duty all day. The only donations arc does not accept are tvs, mattresses, cribs, strollers, and car seats.

The Longmont store also features a tribute to the artist who designed the store’s mascot, ‘Arcky.’ A mural near the back highlights the perky bluebird and a nearby plaque honors Kit Sutorius, his creator, and the founder of Avocet Communications in Longmont. Sutorius died in January.

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