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New Life Center opens second thrift store in south Fargo

The metro area's newest thrift store opened Monday, May 30, at 5556 51st Ave. S. Tom O'Keefe, operations director for the New Life Center, said the store's opening day tripled expectations.

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Clothing items are sorted at the New Life Center Thrift Store in Southwest Fargo.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — A new thrift store is now welcoming shoppers in south Fargo.

The New Life Center opened their second Fargo thrift store Monday, May 30, at 5556 51st Ave. S. Tom O’Keefe, operations director for the New Life Center, said the store checks in at nearly 16,000-square-feet, quadrupling the size of their north Fargo store at 221 19th St. N.

The journey to opening the metro’s newest thrift store began five years ago, O’Keefe explained, when the New Life Center’s first store moved out of the mission’s shelter.

That store eventually began bringing in greater financial resources for the charity, meaning it was time to expand. “As the store started being more profitable, providing more resources for the mission, we realized the opportunity was there to have a larger thrift store,” O’Keefe said.

Moving to the south side of Fargo was always the goal. “It’s just good business sense to be down on the south end where there’s more families and more opportunity to increase customers,” he added. “Being on the south end is just a dream come true for us.”

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The new store primarily carries clothing, though it also stocks housewares, knick-knacks, pictures, sporting goods and shoes. O’Keefe invited residents to consider donating anything in those categories and called the initial donations for the store “fantastic.”

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Houseware accessories are displayed at the New Life Center Thrift Store in Southwest Fargo.
David Samson/The Forum

Being located right off of the heavily-trafficked 52nd Ave. S. has also been a major benefit for the store. O’Keefe credited the busy roadway with helping drive a successful opening day. “Traffic counts are so good. We had a great opening day. It exceeded my expectations by about three times,” he said. “It’s been marvelous. I think it’s just going to be a great partnership with us and the community.”

‘A great opportunity’

In addition to helping fund the New Life Center’s goals of lifting people out of homelessness, the thrift stores also offer residents a chance to interact with the mission.

For most, thrift stores are the first way they’ll encounter the New Life Center. It’s why O’Keefe said they’re always seeking volunteers to help run the stores. “It’s a great opportunity for people to volunteer,” he said.

Volunteers range from high school students to seniors, which O’Keefe said offers people the chance to do good for the community across generations.

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Levi Glaser sets up Minnesota Vikings collectibles in the sporting goods section inside the New Life Center Thrift Store in Southwest Fargo.
David Samson/The Forum

The thrift store also helps those in need by offering job coaching and rehabilitation to those in need. “Some of them haven’t had jobs or don’t know how to have a job,” O’Keefe said. “This is just an opportunity for us to train them how to get out and be productive in society.”

For that, O’Keefe said they turn to their Genesis Recovery Program , which is dedicated to treating drug and alcohol addiction. “They work in the store side-by-side with our volunteers and our employees to help us further the mission of the store and help them further the mission of their lives,” he commented.

Growing quickly

Thrifting has grown increasingly popular in recent years.

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According to a report published by online thrift store ThredUp , the secondhand market was valued at $35 billion in 2021. ThredUp anticipates that the market will more than double in size and value by 2026, reaching $82 billion.

O’Keefe said the move to thrifting has been driven by millennials. “Thrifting is so popular now,” he said.

The New Life Center has been happy to benefit from the trend, O’Keefe said, because government funding has continued to decrease in recent years. “We just knew that we had to diversify our income streams,” he noted.

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The New Life Center Thrift Store is now open at 5556 51st Ave S. in Fargo.
David Samson/The Forum

According to ThredUp’s report, the top three reasons for shopping secondhand are saving money, affording higher-end brands and finding one-of-a-kind items.

In that case, consider O’Keefe a thrifter. “I’ve never dressed so good in my life,” he laughed.

Business profile

WHAT: New Life Center thrift store
WHERE: 5556 51st Ave. S.
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday
CALL: 701-235-4453

Related Topics: FARGORETAILNONPROFITS
Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over two years, primarily reporting on business news. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-353-8363. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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