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Two thrift stores, same block, same mission

OCEANSIDE — Goodwill recently held a grand opening for its 5,620-square-foot thrift store at 3935 Mission Ave. just seven doors down from the Brother Bennos Thrift Store at 3965 Mission Ave.
Brother Bennos Thrift Store has been at its present address for 18 years. Its store banner simply reads “The Thrift Shop.” It’s opened six-days-a-week and closes at or before 4 p.m. Donations are collected in-store.
The new Goodwill Thrift Store is open seven days a week with evening hours until 8 p.m. most nights. There are drive-up donation bins located in the back of the store.
The new neighbor prompted Brother Bennos to post additional signs and extend its hours on Wednesdays to accommodate evening shoppers.
“We’re having a tough time,” said Helen Parsons, Brother Bennos liaison and special events coordinator. “They’re huge. We’re very concerned about donations.”
Business for Brother Bennos Thrift Store peaked over the past year, but shortly after the Goodwill Thrift Store opened Brother Bennos had three of its lowest sales days this year.
“We’re not trying to slay them, but it’s like David and Goliath,” Parsons said. “We don’t want people to overlook us.”
Both nonprofit stores rely on donations of goods that they in turn sell. Brother Bennos is a community service organization, which is chiefly run by volunteers. Profits from thrift store sales are used to fund Brother Bennos hot meal programs, shelter for homeless mothers and children, and housing for recovering addicts.
“We’re more of a ministry,” Parsons said. “We’re really there to serve.”
“It’s one of the greatest organizations I’ve ever know of,” said Alma Boone, a longtime Brother Bennos volunteer.
Goodwill Industries provides jobs for people who are making their way back into the workforce sometimes due to disabilities, criminal backgrounds, or unemployment after military service.
The store is run by paid employees. Most of them are in the Goodwill job-training program. Job training services also include help with writing a resume, developing interview skills, and referrals to community organizations.
“This is the first full time employment I’ve been able to obtain in four years,” said Danene Abbott, a retired army medic and Goodwill Thrift Store employee. “It’s helping me fine tune the retail skills I’ve always had.”
“We pay everyone in our program,” said Sharon Corrigan, Goodwill communications director. “It’s real work experience. Our purpose is getting people to work.”
Goodwill has two thrift stores in Oceanside. The new location was opened to accommodate shoppers in east Oceanside and Fallbrook.
“People shop and donate where it’s most convenient,” Corrigan said. “We’ve gotten calls for years.”
Shoppers have good things to say about the selection at both stores.
“I like the prices,” said Faye Shinn, a seven year shopper of Brother Bennos Thrift Store. “I also bring my donations here. I feel it’s helping everyone.”
“I only go for the brands,” said Gloria Brunbaugh, a shopper in the boutique section of Goodwill Thrift Store.