Kira Wennerstrom is a confirmed thrift-store junkie.
She began working for a local estate sale company when she was just a teenager. In college, she made money by taking thrift-store finds and selling them online.
In February, she opened a renovated building in downtown Bayfield and named it Bee Thrifty.
“I love helping my community,” said the Bayfield High School graduate. She enjoys hearing of the history of the old downtown building, which used to house the town’s saddle shop.
She thought it was disheartening to go to thrift stores and see items marked for $50 or even $100, knowing that was out of reach for many store clients. Using a donation model for the store, she is able to keep prices low at her Bayfield location.
She purchases some clothes in Phoenix for resale as well, and she continues working at Earthly Treasures, the estate sale company, as well as operating a space in the Durango Antique Market.
She donates a percentage of her net sales every month to an area nonprofit group, as well as providing a change jar for donations.
In March, she donated $650 to Pine River Shares, and April’s recipient was Hearing the Call, which provides hearing health care and hearing aids to Colorado residents.
Wennerstrom lost the hearing in one of her ears from an undiagnosed illness, and Hearing the Call provided her with a hearing aid, so she thought making the company one of the first recipients of the philanthropy of her business was a good way to return the favor. She donated $700 to the organization.
May’s recipient is the Be Frank Foundation, which provides music education opportunities for youths in La Plata County.
On Saturday, she is hosting a sports gear day so locals can get some good sportswear at a reasonable price.
She said the quality of donations to her store has been somewhat of a surprise, with new items such as a 65-inch flatscreen TV being dropped off at her location, which accepts donations on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
High-end outdoor clothing often is donated by the bagful, as well.
One thing Wennerstrom doesn’t like about the industry is what is termed as “fast fashion,” which is basically shoddily made clothing that sells online for about $3. It tears and rips quickly, and she usually has to throw it away when it’s donated in this state.
That downside is overcome, however, by finding long-lasting items that people enjoy at a reasonable price.
In addition to clothing, Bee Thrifty also has tools, housewares, linens, toys and vintage items, with the selection depending largely on what has been donated in the past few weeks. Occasionally, there are half-price clothing sales, as well.
Bee Thrifty is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. It is located at 24 E. Mill St. in downtown Bayfield.
The store can be reached at 508-1050.