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Valley Falls Clothes Closet: Well-dressed on a budget

Story and photos by Holly Davis

The saying “If they don’t have what you need now, come back again” seems to be the trend at the Valley Falls Clothes Closet. Customers are coming from all over to check out the inventory.

The Clothes Closet is a used clothing store that accepts and sells men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing in good condition. The main purpose of the store is to provide the community with good clothing at an affordable cost. Clothes are sold according to season in order to keep the store organized.

Valley Falls Clothes Closet

Shirley Neiberger stands among some of the used clothing inventory at the Clothes Closet, a store that operates on good will, charity, and low prices.

Other items include toys, baby items, accessories, shoes, and household items.

“One of our biggest sellers is the knickknacks people bring in,” store chairwoman Shirley Neiberger said. Due to lack of space, furniture is not sold in the store with the exception of city-wide garage sale days only. The store also does not accept any electronics. Donations can be left at the store’s front door at any time of day.

The store has “bag sales” periodically based on inventory overload. During this event, customers are able to fill up grocery bags with store items and buy each bag for $5. Other deals include $5 coupons given to those who receive items from the annual “school supply give-away.”

The Clothes Closet is governed by a six-member board and is associated with the United Methodist Church. Board meetings are held during the first Monday of every month. They use this time for organizing and brainstorming in order to make the store most useful.

Board members besides Neiberger are Joan Reichart, Gerry Metzger, Pat Jackson, Betty Jane Wilson, and Emmajean Williams. There are over 19 regular volunteers who manage the store when it is open. Anyone, even those who are not involved with the church, may volunteer.

Working to organize the Clothes Closet recently were Sondra Sullivan, Shirley Neiberger and Betty Jane Wilson.

Working to organize the Clothes Closet recently were Sondra Sullivan, Shirley Neiberger and Betty Jane Wilson.

Store hours include: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon.

Funds from the store go mainly to the Valley Falls church. Excess inventory goes to Let’s Help, Veterans’ Administration, and Caring Pregnancy Options in the capital city.

Soiled coats are dry-cleaned at Scotch dry cleaners through the “Share the Warmth” foundation and are sent to the Salvation Army. Nice clothing is donated to the Rescue Mission of North Topeka as well as torn up clothing for the use of rags. In case of a tragedy such as a fire, donations are given to local families in need.

The Valley Falls Clothes Closet was established in 1980 and was first located above the Lowry and Johnson law office.

“Having too many stairs made it difficult to carry boxes up and down,” Neiberger said.

In 1982 the store was moved to the United Methodist Church parsonage and was run by women of the church, but was not associated with the church directly. The parsonage was razed to make way for a new building and the store was moved into the church baement. The new building, Ministry and Missions, was completed in 2009.

“It was pretty crowded in the basement, Neiberger said, “We’re enjoying it (the new building.)”

The new building also has a space where the church youth group can have meetings during the school year, but is used as a place for storage otherwise.

“We appreciate the donations and support of the customers. Without them, we wouldn’t have this,” Neiberger said.

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