Blooming Tails Thrift Store helping the environment

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PUHI — Kaua‘i Humane Society’s Blooming Tails thrift store in the Puhi industrial area is artfully organized and decorated with numerous items donated by the community.

By shopping at the thrift store, customers are contributing to KHS, as all proceeds at Blooming Tails goes to the animal shelter.

There has been new management at the store which has helped to increase foot traffic and sales. Courtney Still has been managing the business for about three months.

“I feel like if you enjoy what you do you never work a day in your life. For me I love animals and I enjoy thrift shopping, so having the two hand in hand works perfectly for me,” Still said.

Still has also been putting in the effort to cut back on trash coming out of the store.

“Some changes we’ve made to reduce our trash is to our textiles,” Still said. “To reduce that we created 25-cent bins and there has been a lot less trash. Our goal is to reduce what is going in the landfill by cutting back on waste, we will repurpose things and turn textiles into rags. If we have a lot of something we will also do blowout sales.”

Any extra clothing that does not sell ends up in the 25-cent sales bins, which has been encouraging customers to purchase more textiles, and cuts back on unsold items going into the trash. A majority of the trash is textiles.

In the past, 1,350 pounds of trash was produced weekly. Now, 750 pounds of trash is collected every week.

Over the course of a year, a significant amount of waste coming out of the thrift store has been reduced, too. About 25,000 pieces of clothing are sold in a year, amounting to preventing roughly 28,000 pounds of textiles from going into the trash and landfill. KHS employees in charge of extra trash pickup and maintenance at the store are Terry Klask, the facilities manager, and Romeo Suniga, the maintenance technician.

There is a vast variety of items for sale at the thrift store, ranging from storage items, organizers and shelving, women’s, men, and children’s clothing, and shoes including school uniforms occasionally, to luggage items, Hawaiiana products, and even holiday items. Also included in the inventory are home decor items like lamps and picture frames, kid’s toys, footwear, costumes, kitchenware, furniture and even books and DVDs.

Each employee has expertise in certain items, and they can be consulted about how to use and where to find certain products, like accessories and kitchenware.

“Nalani Reynolds is our accessory queen, if you have questions about jewelry or hats you can talk to her,” Still said. “Aunty Judy Fukunaga is great with our kitchenware, if you need baking tips, or what you can use for certain things while cooking she is very knowledgeable in that.”

When it comes to home décor, they got it covered.

“Our new hire Shell Skaer is great at building new items for homes. If you have questions about shelving, if you need ideas on how to organize or color coordinate she has a keen eye for that,” Still said.

Still enjoys helping customers one on one, she said.

“I enjoy doing personalized shopping for people, like if you’re going on your first date or you need clothing for a job. I love personalizing outfits for people.”

She talks about the responsibility of the sanitation of textiles, “We have Uncle John Hunter, we call him our executive clothing steamer, so he does most of the sanitation of the clothing. He will steam out wrinkles and handles the process of cleaning clothes.”

When looking to adopt a pet, that too can be done at Blooming Tails. Currently, there are two cats available for adoption, Hoody and Rascal. Hoody is a male black and white cat, with white fur on his chest. Rascal is a female cat that is black and brown in color. The cats get along well together. Adopt a pet and get a coupon of 10% off of a purchase at Blooming Tails.

“There’s lots of new foot traffic and lots of newcomers, we’re getting a lot more donations as well,” Still said.

Other changes that have benefited the business is arranging donation appointments, “For donations we take it by appointment and you can go to the website bloomingtailskauai.org. There you add your contact information and what you are going to be donating.”

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Monique Kemper is a lifelong North Shore resident who lives in Princeville and writes periodically for The Garden Island.

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