By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD — Graduating South Kitsap High School seniors will get a money-making generator designed to help them earn scholarships if a school counselor has his way.
Dave Reichel, a career counselor at South Kitsap, believes a thrift store would be an effective way to raise money to help students pay for education after high school. The first step in obtaining this new funding source is to find someone in the community who can provide the school with commercial space to open a thrift store.
“People would donate used items which would be sold in the store,” Reichel said. “The money raised would be used for scholarships for our seniors.”
The store would function as a thrift store, similar to Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul, he said.
Such an enterprise has proven to have been successful elsewhere.
“I’m not ashamed to admit I stole the idea,” Reichel said with a chuckle, “because it is such a great idea.”
The school counselor said he learned that Peninsula High School, in Gig Harbor, opened a thrift store to earn scholarship money for students. He is impressed by the success of the operation.
SAVE Thrift Store is located near Peninsula High and has been in operation for more than 30 years after a group of parents came up with the idea. Students volunteer at the store or do internships to earn work experience. School groups can also earn funds by having members put in work hours. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
The Gig Harbor store earned $83,000 that was earmarked for scholarships last year, SAVE store manager Kendra Zartman said.
More than 120 Peninsula students applied for the scholarship money in 2019. “Every student who completed a scholarship packet received at least $500 in funding,” Zartman said.
“Clothing is the most popular thing we sell,” Zartman said. “We also sell books and games, small kitchen appliances, sporting goods and tools. Pretty much anything but large furniture and big appliances.”
“During certain times of the year, we tend to sell more [specific] types of items,” Zartman pointed out.
“When young adults are heading to college we sell lots of dishes, towels and bedding,” she said. “At Christmas, it’s toys and holiday decorations.”
Reichel sees no reason why the success at Peninsula can’t be duplicated in Port Orchard.
“The economy is booming so people have a lot to give away,” he said.
He reported that St. Vincent currently limits drop off donations to five bags. “We will be able to take whatever people have.”
The idea of opening a local thrift store has been well received.
The South Kitsap Education Foundation and South Kitsap Rotary support the idea, Reichel said. A member of the Rotary is ready to set up a business plan for the operation, he added.
A building owner who provides space for the store, while being appreciated by the school for their generosity, will likely realize tax benefits for the contribution, Reichel added.