Thrift and charity

By Erica Anderson
MSUM print journalism student

Moorhead Thrift Shop’s welcoming main entrance on Main Avenue.
Photo by Erica Anderson

Moorhead Thrift Shop offers a wide variety of used items to its customers, cramming clothes and knick-knacks in every nook and cranny in the small space they occupy. Although the shop has much to offer a waiting shopper, its grip reaches beyond to make a wider local and even global impact.

Open since 1975, Moorhead Thrift Shop has remained in the same building on Main Avenue throughout its existence. Taking most everything brought in except large appliances and furniture (because there simply isn’t room) the store gives away much more than it keeps.

Donny Skyberg acts as Moorhead Thrift Shop’s president and manager, one of the few workers who is in the shop every day.
Photo by Erica Anderson

Donny Skyberg, board president and acting manager of the store, said the store’s board has given $411,000 to local charities.

“We keep enough to pay the bills and give away the rest,” Skyberg said.

The Moorhead Thrift Shop spreads its income between local hospice, food pantries, Churches United for the Homeless and families who have experienced tragedy and need help with medical bills.

A customer shops the store, sorting through racks of sweaters, winter jackets and other clothing items.
Photo by Erica Anderson

The store doesn’t have any employees; twenty volunteers make up the staff. Most volunteer staff are elderly or retired, with an occasional college student, too. Skyberg is one of the few who gets a little — very little — compensation for his time.

Moorhead Thrift Shop is at 501 Main Ave. Moorhead. With the perfect location for drawing in Concordia and Minnesota State University Moorhead students, the store has a heavy flow of college-aged customers.

“We get people in here from Canada and all different states,” Skyberg said. “They come to visit their kids at college and stop in.”

The mens clothing section of the store: Suit coats, t-shirts, ties and shoes hang on racks and sit on shelves.
Photo by Erica Anderson

The shop takes donations of kitchen wear, men and women’s clothes and shoes, home décor, records, books and miscellaneous knick knacks.

Being in such a small space, pushes the aisles tightly together. Men’s clothing aisles dead-end at ties and shoes while records and kitchen wares occupy their own corner of the shop, as do women’s wear. When walking into the building that holds various other businesses, the smell of “thrift” is present, giving one a sense of what is to come.

A mannequin displays a full outfit to potential customers.
Photo by Erica Anderson

Since it is improbable the store will sell everything that comes in, Moorhead Thrift Shop does what it can with the excess.

“What we can’t sell we recycle,” Skyberg said. “Nothing is thrown away.”

Coats and blankets that aren’t sold are put by the Dumpsters outside the building for the homeless to take freely. Within a few hours the items are usually gone, Skyberg said.

Each month Moorhead Thrift Shop sells 175-200 pounds of cut rags to construction companies. The store has given $1,000 to help the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief and Northwood tornado and is in the process of discussing donations to go to Haiti relief.

Top: Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch thrift store on 10th Street in Fargo.
Bottom: The Arc Attic Treasures thrift shop off of University in Fargo.
Photos by Erica Anderson

Downtown provides other thrift stores that are non-profit and run on volunteer services. Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch’s downtown location operates with employees and volunteers.

“Money goes to our schools for kids,” said the store’s manager Brenda Krueger.

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch help finance schools in Fargo, Minot and Bismarck and a safe house in Fargo. The Arc Attic Treasures also employs and welcomes volunteers with money going to children with developmental disorders.

 

Downtown Fargo-Moorhead non-profit thrift stores locations:
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch: 1001 Fourth Ave., Fargo. 701-280-2371
The Arc Attic Treasures: 255 N. University Drive, Fargo. 701-232-6641
• Moorhead Thrift Shop: 501 Main Ave., Moorhead. 218-233-2995

 

Related downtown links:
Downtown Connection
The Downtowner

 

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