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Ella Kneprath works as a clerk at the new boutique La Scene which is located next door to the New 2 You thrift store. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

Willmar thrift store reopens with more space, trendy boutique

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WILLMAR -- The New 2 You thrift store and its new boutique La Scene are open for business after an extensive remodeling and expansion project.

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The main thrift store is larger and brighter, with more room to display merchandise. The two shops now use the entire building in the 1400 block of First Street South.

Central Minnesota Christian School of Prinsburg has operated the thrift store since 2007, and purchased the building where it's located in January. The building housed the original thrift store, NAPA auto parts and Godfather's Pizza when it was purchased.

NAPA moved to 409 19th Ave. S.W. last spring.

New 2 You had planned on having Godfather's operating and paying rent at the south end of the building, said business manager Darci Post. The owners decided to close when their old lease expired, though they were offered a new lease.

Donations are being accepted at the back of the building. The managers ask that people use the double doors between two trailers. The doors are at the top of the tar ramp.

"We love giving people an outlet to recycle," Post said.

La Scene is located in the former Godfather's location. The space is available for lease, but if La Scene is successful, it could be there long-term.

La Scene reflects the trend toward better-quality donations in recent years, said Becky Zondervan, thrift store manager and volunteer coordinator.

It includes vintage and trendy merchandise. Much of it is good quality merchandise that has been donated to the store. In addition to men's and women's clothing, it features shoes, jewelry, bags and other accessories.

The shop includes items from Hollister, American Eagle, Roxy, Forever 21 and many other current brands.

The boutique uses the floor plan from the restaurant, which seems to work well for a clothing store. The shop had some donated tables in storage that matched the woodwork, and they are being used for displays in the boutique.

La Scene has attracted a younger set of volunteers to the business, too.

Teens like handling the nicer clothes and working on the displays, they said. Along the way they get experience in customer service, labeling merchandise and running a cash register.

"My daughter loves working over there," Zondervan said.

La Scene isn't just for teens, though. "There's a lot of women my age who shop over there," Zondervan said.

The main thrift store is much bigger and brighter than the original shop. The entire retail space is on the main floor, while the old one had some merchandise on the second floor.

The biggest seller is women's clothing, they said, but they hope to expand their furniture displays. The most-requested item is beds and bed frames.

They "pretty much gutted" most of the building. The managers said they looked for ways to recycle and save money wherever they could. They saved doors and other items, and they only redid walls where necessary. If they were in good shape, they were cleaned and repainted.

The project was planned after extensive research.

"We've researched some very large thrift stores," Post said. "The idea is to keep it clean, fresh and organized."

The thrift store reopened with different hours, too. It is closed Monday and Tuesday each week and open from Wednesday through Saturday. La Scene shares the same hours.

Many other thrift stores use a similar schedule, Zondervan said. "It gives us time to set up sales" and spend more time developing retail displays and switching out seasonal merchandise. Donations are still accepted Monday through Saturday during store hours.

Store hours in August are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. In September, the shops will be open until 8 p.m. on Thursday and until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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