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Operators hope to increase Kidney Thrift Store’s profile

By Staff | Feb 18, 2010

The Cape Coral Kidney Thrift Store has been in existence a long time but very few people know it.
President Sharon Childers wants to change all of that, hoping that raising the store’s profile will bring in more revenue to help the National Kidney Foundation, a non-profit organization which the store represents.
“There’s not a day that goes by when people tell me they didn’t know we are here,” Childers said.
Tucked into a small strip mall on the corner of Candia and Miramar streets in downtown Cape Coral, the store has been in operation for nearly three decades, moving from location to location during that time.
As the store struggled through the years, it was still able to carve out its own interesting niche: while some thrift stores drifted toward retail style prices, the Kidney Thrift Store was, and still is, offering the kinds of price ranges expected from bargain hunters.
Men’s clothing range in price from 75 cents to a dollar, women’s clothes at 50 cents flat, dresses from $2-5, and children clothes 25 cents to $2.
“In this economy, people can come in here and get a ton of stuff for only a couple dollars,” Childers said.
The size of the Candia Street store is also an issue, preventing the group from accepting and selling large items like furniture and beds.
Childers said the store’s small budget keeps it from advertising, forcing it to seek out free methods like Craig’s List, posting signs and handing out literature at the CRA Street Market.
Childers said she doesn’t feel as if the store is in direct competition with other thrift stores in the CRA.
Instead, it’s in competition with itself, as its profile still remains relatively low.
“We don’t feel we’re in competition with other thrift stores because our prices are so low, but again, no one knows we’re here,” Childers said.
Childers recently replaced Ed Latwinski as president.
Latwinski was president since 2004, but served as a volunteer with the store since 1999.
It was a personal calling for Latwinski, who said he lost a close family member to kidney disease.
“My brother died of kidney disease,” he said. “They just shut down on him one day.”
Now that Latwinski has passed the reins to Childers, she feels its her mission to see the store strive and grow.
She’s thankful for the volunteers, who she said makes the entire venture possible. But she also knows the store will have to grow in every way to continue providing assistance to the National Kidney Foundation.
Latwinski agreed, saying, “It makes you feel better knowing you’re helping people out.”