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Christian thrift shop re-opens today

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Sunnyside Christian Thrift Shop Manager Diane Plooster tidies up the shelves last Friday in anticipation of today's reopening of the popular store, which has moved from Sixth Street to 305 North Avenue.

It's been a journey involving teens and octogenarians, a free-wheeling mannequin, and more than a few challenges along the way. But supporters say the relocation of Sunnyside Christian Thrift Shop is also one more thing: an answer to prayer.

After a month-long closure, the thrift shop officially opened its doors this morning, Monday, at its new location, 305 North Avenue. A grand opening is slated for July 1-3.

"We've had people stopping by for the past few weeks," said store manager Diane Plooster. "Any time there were cars out front, customers thought we were open and wanted to shop, and now they can."

The thrift shop originally opened in 1996 with a two-fold mission: to provide a quality, low-cost shopping alternative to area residents, and to financially help Sunnyside Christian School, as proceeds reduce tuition costs.

The store is leased from Sunnyside Christian Foundation, another non-profit entity that supports the school. The foundation purchased the former St. Vincent de Paul property from the Yakima Catholic diocese last spring. St. Vincent's closed in December.

"This whole thing has been an answer to prayer," Plooster said. "(For years) we hunted and hunted and hunted for a different, larger location, and at the right time God just dropped it into our hands."

Sunnyside Christian Thrift Shop inherited St. Vincent's inventory, including hundreds of boxes of clothing, housewares and Christmas decorations. Everything had to be sorted and cleaned, a gigantic task tackled by volunteers.

"We had so many volunteers, from kids to guys in their 80s," Plooster said. The end result, a cheery country theme d├ęcor, "really shows the energy and talent of our volunteers. This was a real community effort."

High school students with loaner vehicles actually moved everything out of the old shop on Sixth Street one day in late May. Youth being youth, they placed a store mannequin on a truck's rooftop for the fateful journey through downtown. It was, Plooster said laughing, "quite a ride."

There will be a few notable changes in business at the new location. Hours will remain 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the shop will be closed on Saturdays.

Merchandise will be on display, including an area dedicated to furniture. Plooster said the shop currently has several couches, tables, a dresser set, a twin bunk bed, and large charcoal BBQ in stock.

Sunnyside Christian Thrift Shop Board President Linda Benjert concedes there's still some work to be done. The problem, as with most remodels, is money. Electrical, plumbing and paint took most of the shop's moving budget. She said there is still a wish-list of projects, including new signage.

The thrift shop is a non-profit organization so monetary and material donations are tax deductible. Contributions can be sent to Sunnyside Christian Thrift Shop, 305 North Avenue, or they can be dropped off.

"We're grateful to every person and business that made this move a reality," Benjert said. "It's been an answer to prayer."

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