I am writing this article as a biased employee of the Once Again Thrift Store which is located at 15260 Kutztown Road in the Weis Plaza in Kutztown. In the year and a half that I have worked there, I am daily amazed at many things that make it a hidden treasure as well as a community service to the Kutztown area and beyond.

Owned by the Todd and Jessica Greiss since 2013, the store provides part-time employment for the majority of its 10 employees from the community and has employed many college students during the summer months.

Like many other businesses, Once Again Thrift Store was closed from the middle of March until early June. It was a time of no income and no donations, but of continued paying of bills for rent, electric, insurance, payroll services and more.

On June 5 the store reopened and began taking donations. For the amount of square footage that exists in the store, the capacity restrictions did not affect us even on our busiest day of the year. But in order to make our customers more comfortable, some changes were made.

A table was placed in front of the check-out counter to insure distancing between cashier and customer, more cleaning of carts, counters and entrance way were done, and signs were posted about wearing masks and social distancing.

The store recently installed a new check-out counter that was donated by Kutztown Community Library after KCL received a new circulation desk from the Fleetwood Area Public Library. Now there is plenty of space between the customer and cashier and the store no longer needs an extra table pushed next to the counter to achieve 6-foot social distance.

The amount of donations received after the shutdown period increased as many people spent the quarantine time organizing and sorting their homes and had lots to donate. Although after receiving no donations during shutdown, the thrift store came out about even.

Our customer numbers were certainly low in those early days after reopening and after 8 months we continue to see the effects of COVID in losing both the older more at risk customers, as well as the younger student customers because of Kutztown University going virtual.

The generosity of the store to its employees and to its community is noteworthy. They continue their history of donating to many local organizations and causes, focusing most on needs of local families and children. Some of their donations of both money and goods can be seen given to fire victims, sports teams, missions trips, food banks, animal shelters, and Kutztown Area School District fundraisers, to name a few.

The store has approximately 10,000 square feet of unique, one-of-a-kind treasures — an impressive selection of children's clothing from infant to teens, as well as adult clothing, shoes and accessories, plus furniture, household goods, sports equipment, pet supplies, electronics, music, party supplies, craft and sewing supplies, movies, home décor, games, adult and children's books, to name only a few items that can be found there. It serves the community as a convenient, great place to donate your gently used items that you no longer need.

Personally, I am happy that Once Again Thrift Store continues to be open, supporting and serving in our community even during this difficult time of COVID.

Visit the store at 15260 Kutztown Road in the Weis Plaza in Kutztown or for more information, follow on Facebook at Once.Again.Thrift.Store.

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