Always something surprising at the Store Next Door
A steady stream of customers can be found visiting The Store Next Door on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in Pratt. Store manager Patty Fox opens the doors at 10 a.m. at 311 South Main Street and a busy clientele evolves.
The thrift store, which is located right next door to the iconic Barron Theater in Pratt, sells clothing, books, household items, furniture and various trinkets. All of the items sold are new or lightly used. They rely on the donations of others, as they are a nonprofit, volunteer-run business. A host of dedicated volunteers are always busy each week rotating product and setting up new displays to showcase the surprising, good deals that come in for resale.
According to Fox, the Store Next Door’s goal is to “generate income for the ministries that we offer in Pratt, offer job training to the youth, and build relationships within the community.” The store also donates items to those in need.
“We are a ministry first and then a business,” Fox said.
Youth Core Ministries opened the Store Next Door in 2019 after buying South Wind Thrift Shop. YCM is a Christianity-based group whose goal, according to their website youthcoreministries.org, is to forever transform communities through leading kids to Jesus, connecting them to caring adults and wrapping around families to solve poverty.
Fox has been a part of Youth Core Ministries since 2017.
“I started working for YCM as a volunteer at Core Life and then was offered the job to run the theater, then later was offered the job as manager of the thrift store,” Fox said.
She also works as the manager of the Barron Theater. As manager of both the store and theatre, Fox said she is always busy.
“As a manager of two businesses, there are always multiple things to get done,” Fox said.
Thus, the Store Next Door is always looking for more adult and youth volunteers, to help keep the merchandise fresh and surprising.
“It is very fulfilling to give back to a community and pour into the next generation,” Fox said, “I love watching teens go from being timid and insecure about working to learning new skills and becoming confident. It’s always hard losing great workers, but I feel that I have done my purpose when the teens get jobs in the community and do well at them because of the start they get here.”
Fox said one of the volunteers even said that as a child she always dreamed of getting to decorate store front windows... and now she gets to do just that at the Store Next Door.
"I think that everyone who works at the store gets to use their God-given gifts and it shows,” Fox said. “I feel very blessed that I get to work with such amazing volunteers.”
This past year has been difficult for everyone. This is especially true for small business.
Since reopening after COVID-19 caused some closure time because of the pandemic last year, Fox said she appreciates customers ever so much more.
“We have been told by multiple people that they love coming in because of the appearance and inviting atmosphere,” Fox said.
Customer Graciela Garcia said she appreciates the friendly staff, and that they have something for everyone.
“Everything is reasonably priced and there is always something you will find,” she said. “Whenever I’m free on the weekends, I go. There is always some new."
The thrift store has a page on Facebook where they post sales and new items. The Store Next Door is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.