Treasure chest of hope

In this instance, the hidden treasure turned out to be a new spot for, well, Hidden Treasures.

Thrift shop receives a Christmas miracle by finding its new Kenmore location

In this instance, the hidden treasure turned out to be a new spot for, well, Hidden Treasures.

A Kenmore thrift store formerly operated on Northeast Bothell Way, manager Jenni Jensen repeatedly referred to finding a new spot for the store as a Christmas miracle.

“It was really sad to think we were going to close,” Jensen said.

Operated by Bothell’s Cedar Park Cathedral, the store helps support several charitable operations such as homeless and battered-women’s shelters.

Should a local family lose everything in a fire, Hidden Treasures has been there with goods to help that family survive. Every week, developmentally and physically handicapped volunteers help out at the store, presumably gaining work experience along the way.

Even so, though it was the last thing anyone connected to the store wanted to see happen, Jensen and church leaders were forced two months ago to make the decision to close Hidden Treasures when their lease expired Dec. 31.

Jensen said renewing their claim on the Bothell Way location (near the Stupid Prices store) was simply too expensive a proposition, Jensen said.

“There were no options out there,” she added, offering that she had, in fact, pretty much given up on looking for a new location and resigned herself to the store’s closing.

That closure would have put at least 15 people out of work. Jensen added most had begun to look for other jobs, but with the general economic slowdown, they were not having much luck.

“For me, it was so heart-wrenching to know they couldn’t find jobs,” she said.

According to Jensen, she got official word two weeks before Christmas that a new space was, in fact, available, at a quarter of the cost of the Bothell Way location. Store officials got the keys and signed a lease on space in Kenmore Village on Northeast 181st St., in the same plaza as Ostrom’s Drug and Gifts, just a week before Christmas.

“I felt very bad,” said employee Sampson Scott of the period when he thought the store was closing. “Hidden Treasures is a very good working environment.”

A Liberian immigrant and a married father of five, Scott has another full-time job, but needs the added income gained by working at the thrift store.

One of several volunteers helping relocate the store’s stock Dec. 30, Lisa Skaugset said she decidedly appreciates the inexpensive goods offered by Hidden Treasures.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom,” she said, adding that as such, she is, naturally enough, always out to find ways to save money.

If finding a spot to relocate can be considered a Christmas miracle, Jensen also talked about another, more dramatic incident, one that took place about the same time the store signed its new lease. A volunteer happened to hear noises outside of the old store and went to look in the back of the building. According to Jensen, the volunteer arrived outside just in time to witness a failed attempt by a homeless man to hang himself.

The volunteer called 9-1-1, but just as importantly, stayed with the man, who was initially unconscious, and talked to him, trying to calm and support him until help arrived. Jensen noted Cedar Park officials at one point planned to close Hidden Treasures two months before their lease ran out, meaning that volunteer would not have been around to help the would-be suicide.

“To me, you saw that we had a purpose for being in the community,” Jensen said.

Kenmore Village is owned by the city, and plans call for its eventual razing in order to make room for new development. Hidden Treasures was able to sign a lease on its new space for 11 months only. Jensen said because of the economy, she believes any new construction may have to be delayed and is hopeful Hidden Treasures will be around for some time.

Even as volunteers and workers still were carrying in stock, Jensen said the goal was to have the new location opened and taking donations by Jan. 2. The store accepts the usual thrift-shop goods, but because of space considerations, will no longer accept computers, major appliances or beds.

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