Crowded Closet sets up new shop at Pepperwood Plaza with grand opening March 25

The thrift shop Crowded Closet has moved to a new location, which staff members say will better serve the customers and community.


Alyson Kuennen

Crowded Closet is seen on Sunday, March 24, 2019. The thrift shop relocated to 851 Hwy 6 E and will have a grand opening on Monday, March 25.

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

Trading gently worn clothing, home décor, and other items, Iowa City’s nonprofit thrift shop, Crowded Closet, has had a home on Gilbert Court for more than 40 years. Now, the store has moved to a new location in Pepperwood Plaza, 851 Highway 6 E.

The store will hold its grand opening at the new location at 10 a.m. March 25.

RELATED: In thrift we trust: thrift culture in Iowa City

Crowded Closet partners with the Mennonite Central Committee, an international organization that provides relief and humanitarian projects throughout the world.

“Over the years, we’ve been able to send millions of dollars to support those relief projects that go on all around the world,” said Christine Maust Beachy, the Crowded Closet volunteer services coordinator.

According to the Mennonite committee’s website, the organization directed more than $65 million to relief, development, and peace projects in 57 countries in 2018.

The local change comes after 41 years in various locations on Gilbert Court, Crowded Closet Executive Director Carey Miller said. The decision to move had been discussed for several years, Miller said.

The new location was formerly a K-Mart, and Miller said the building fit all the criteria the store looked for.

Increased visibility and parking space were two major factors that influenced the decision about the new location, Miller said. The retail space is also about 60 percent bigger than the previous location.

“We knew we had grown to a point where we had grown out of the old location,” Miller said. “Parking was an issue, and people couldn’t find us easily.”

Beachy said the old retail space wasn’t very visible, and the new location will, hopefully, attract more shoppers who wouldn’t have found the store otherwise.

“Now we have the visibility from the highway,” she said. “We have increased street traffic. We are in a retail marketplace.”

Beachy also said the donation area has been improved, with the new location providing easier access and a drive-through donation zone.

Keeping the store in the same general area of Iowa City was another item that was important, Miller said, with the new store less than a mile from its previous location. Miller said the store wanted to remain close to the local service agencies it supports, such as CommUnity and the Shelter House.

“One of the factors that we wanted to do was stay on the South Side,” Miller said. “We work with various helping agencies in the community, and we wanted to make sure that we stayed close to them.”

The store offers vouchers to a number of local agencies to distribute to people in need, which can then be used to purchase items at Crowded Closet. Sarah Witry, the director of the Food Bank at CommUnity, said Crowded Closet provides $4,000 worth of vouchers to distribute to clients every month.

The vouchers can be used on almost anything in the store, Witry said, including clothing, home goods, and furniture.

“It’s very useful, because obviously, we wouldn’t be able to support a program like that,” Witry said. “If we had to pay for the vouchers, there’s no way that we could provide that service to our clients.”

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