Late last year, store manager Jenni Jensen described finding a new location for the Hidden Treasures thrift shop as a “Christmas miracle.”
Last week, Jensen said the ongoing construction along Northeast Bothell Way along with the slumping economy had put an end to the reprieve the local shop received as a holiday gift.
Formerly located in Kenmore Village, the shop is now closed. On July 17, the store was crowded with about a half-dozen or so shoppers taking advantage of a clearance sale that had all items, from clothing to books to knickknacks, marked down to half price.
“I’m going to miss it,” said customer Jennifer Scott regarding the store she said she was used to visiting about every other month, both before and after its move to Kenmore Village.
“If you looked, you could find some nice things here and you couldn’t beat the prices,” she added.
Kenmore Village is owned by the city, which Jensen said offered Hidden Treasures a six-month lease when it lost the lease on its original Northeast Bothell Way location.
Operated by Bothell’s Cedar Park Cathedral, Hidden Treasures was used by the church to help support several charitable operations, such as its outreach to homeless persons and battered women. But Jensen said the store was losing money when it moved from Bothell Way into Kenmore Village.
“The city gave us a phenomenal deal on this space,” Jensen said. “By all means, it should have been enough to get us back into the black.”
But what the city gave in its lease agreement, construction crews may have taken back. Jensen said that at times, flaggers had to virtually lead customers into the Kenmore Village lot. She feels many who might have visited the store just didn’t make the effort to find their way through the maze of construction equipment and orange cones.
At the same time, Jensen said the economy hit the store with kind of a double whammy. She said many think because of the poor money climate, thrift stores must be booming.
“That’s just not necessarily the case,” Jensen said. First, she said the store had to contend with deep discounts offered by mainstream retailers. At the same time, donations dropped.
“People aren’t donating their stuff because they’re hanging on to it,” Jensen stated.
As most residents know, the existing Kenmore Village has been targeted for redevelopment into a mixed-use retail and residential development. The project has long been stuck in neutral, officials say primarily because of the poor economy. According to Jensen, the city offered Hidden Treasures a one-year lease on its space, with the possibility of a second year. But Jensen said Cedar Park church officials just couldn’t see keeping the store afloat any longer. The closure means the loss of about 10 jobs.
“Just because you’re a nonprofit doesn’t mean you’re supposed to lose money,” Jensen said.
Jensen added many customers are wondering if the store would be able to relocate one more time, but its manager insisted that just isn’t going to happen.
“We’re at the point we’re selling our cash registers,” Jensen said.