People did some cleaning during stay-home orders

ATASCADERO — The COVID-19 stay-home orders were a boom to local thrift stores.

“We’ve been swamped with donations,” said Debi Carroll, manager of the North County Christian Thrift Shop in Atascadero. “I think a lot of people spent this time cleaning up their house.

“Keep bringing them to us; we need them. It’s how we stay afloat,” Carroll added.

Carroll has been with the thrift shop at 9330 El Camino Real for the past seven years. Proceeds from the store support North County Christian School at 6225 Atascadero Mall in Atascadero.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, people supported the NC Christian Thrift Shop by making purchases at the store and dropping off donations.

“We are very consistent here with donations,” Carroll said. “The town is really good to us, always making great donations.”

Throughout most of the stay-home period, the thrift store accepted donations and used social media to make some sales. The store was able to keep everyone employed, as well.

Donations were by appointment only during the height of the stay-home order from roughly 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. six days a week. They were staggered 15 minutes apart.

“There wasn’t a day that a spot was open,” Carroll said. “You would stay in your car. We would keep our six feet. We would push the cart out to them and then they would load their stuff into it. And then we would take it and do the cleaning process.”

NC Christian Thrift Shop offered curbside pickup for people during this time. Carroll said she posted photos of items on the shop’s Facebook and Instagram pages and people could pick up their purchase at the store.

“That kept a little money coming into the store,” Carroll said.

Before reopening to the public, they were allowed to bring merchandise from inside the story out into the parking lot for people to shop.

“We brought all of our inside stuff outside, so it was all outdoor, fresh air, sunshine, and a lot more cleaning,” Carroll said. “That worked out really well. Shortly after that, we were allowed to reopen with social distancing and masks.”

Since reopening, NC Christian Thrift Shop continues to have a steady stream of donations and visitors to the store. Red tape was put on the floor to help people maintain the six-foot distancing guidelines.

People are asked to follow the state mandate regarding face coverings when inside of the store. Carts are cleaned after each use.

“We also have a COVID cleaning station up front for people to clean the carts if they want to do it themselves even if we’ve already done it,” Carroll said. “We have hand sanitizer available as well.”

Currently, appointments are not required when dropping off donations, but maintaining social distancing is a priority. People still need to drive around to the back of the store to do this between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. People can get a receipt and a store coupon after completing their donation.

“We have the best customers in the world, and they all are understanding,” Carroll said. “They sit in their car until one person makes their donations. They just all take turns. I have not had one problem with the customers and donations. They have all been very patient with us.”

The donations are sorted, cleaned and put into a holding area before going out on the floor. The shop cannot wash all of the clothing they receive. Carroll asks that people clean their donations before dropping them off.

“It won’t get put on the floor immediately like before (the pandemic),” Carroll said. “It will at least sit for a good 24 to 48 hours sometimes up to a week depending on the item.”

Carroll said they are glad to be open again and look forward to seeing people come back and shop.

“We are just so thankful to be open,” Carroll said. “I think people may be a little afraid to still come out and shop, which is understandable. We hope it picks up as people understand the measures we are taking to help keep a safe environment.”

North County Thrift Stores

Please call ahead for hours and operational guidelines due to COVID-19

North County Christian Thrift Shop
9330 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422
P. 805.466.1679

Goodwill Paso Robles
825 Riverside Ave #11, Paso Robles, CA 93446
P. 805.369.0150

Goodwill Central Coast
8310 El Camino Real A, Atascadero, CA 93422
P. 805.462.9010

Villiage Thrift Paso Robles
828 14th St, Paso Robles, CA 93446
P. 805.237.7901

Villiage Thrift Atascadero
8681 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422
P. 805.462.0500

Gatherings Thrift
5660 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422
P. 805.464.4483

Gatherings Emporium
1335 Park St, Paso Robles, CA 93446
P. 805.369.2599

Getting through this together, Atascadero