Helping Hands Thrift Store closes permanently

The Helping Hands Thrift Store near the junction of U.S. Highway 101 and U.S. Highway 26 closed last week. The store was created to create revenue for the nonprofit organization, but with so many other thrift stores popping up in the Seaside area, it no longer was financially viable.

The Helping Hands Thrift Store on U.S. Highway 101 has closed.

The store, which opened in that location in 2012, was meant to be an expansion of the thrift store Helping Hands originally started at the site of its current emergency shelter on South Roosevelt Drive.

The store originally was touted as being an integral part of the Hyak project because its revenue would be used to cover monthly payments for the building (see the story on Page 1). Last week, however, the shop was closed.

In its first years, the store helped to create a solid financial foundation for the organization, said Alan Evans, director of Helping Hands. People would donate items to the store, and all the proceeds went back into Helping Hands’ programs and services. But over the past few months, several other thrift stores moved into Seaside. The organization took notice in July and monitored the numbers to see if the Helping Hands Thrift Store was negatively affected by the competition. Proceeds declined to the point that the organization determined it would spend more to cover overhead expenses than it would bring in, Evans said.

“We didn’t want to pay to keep the store open,” Evans said. “That goal of the store was to make money for the organization.”

Costs for the thrift store included rent, utilities, gas and insurance for the delivery truck, liability insurance and garbage expenses.

“We have to look at cost. If we’re not making an adequate amount of money, all the work and energy that’s put into that don’t pan out,” Evans said.

Prices on the store’s items were significantly reduced for two weeks before the store closed, and the weekend before, the store held an event where remaining items were given away.

Although the Helping Hands crew is sad to see the facility go, it is pleased about the opportunity to focus its energy elsewhere, Evans said.

“To take that energy and apply it toward better services and more services is going to be a huge asset to our organization,” he said.

Because revenue from the thrift store no longer can be used for payments on the Hyak Building, Helping Hands had to come up with a different idea.

The organization will be using the Hyak Building’s top floor — which features seven bedrooms, two community bathrooms, a community kitchen and a community living room — to house men who are in the final stage of their re-entry program, or “pre-graduates,” Evans said. Those tenants will be employed full time or will be full-time students. Each person from the Helping Hands program will pay $350 per month to live there, which will give the organization the money to cover the lease. No extra staffing will be needed for the program.

Evans said he hopes the construction will be completed within the next three months, but he’s not rushing the process. He is confident, though, that the Hyak Building will be in use by the organization by next February. When the Hyak opens, it will allow Helping Hands to serve another 12 people seeking emergency shelter at its main campus on Roosevelt Drive.

“I think it’s going to be a great addition to what we do, to have that third-stage program running over there” at the Hyak Building, Evans said.

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