Saving thrift store was ‘right” says businessman Bill Santo

By DANI BLACKBURN
The Hospice Thrift Store was one of several casualties when Bowie Memorial Hospital closed in November.
However a local businessman saw an opportunity and swept in to save it.
The new Thrift Angels consignment store is the brainchild of local entrepreneur Bill Santo, who purchased the store in January 2016 after the hospital closed.
“My mom was visiting from Arizona, and the hospital went out of business, and they had to liquidate everything they owned,” explained Santo. “So we went around and looked at all the property. I talked to a number of people, and came to the conclusion purchasing, or saving, the thrift store, was right.”
His mom, Mari Angela, continues to be a part of the store, flying in from Arizona where she lives to help out. At 91 years old, she works about 40 hours a week at the store when she visits.
In Santo’s eyes, saving the thrift store provided three things for the community: The opportunity for people to buy quality clothing at extremely reduced prices, provided the 36 volunteers a place to give back to their community and to help other people in need.
The store was closed down for about six weeks before Santo purchased it and reopened it the day after signing the papers, but he knew changes needed to be made. He worked closely with his nephew the next 15 Saturdays to understand the exact needs of the community.
“We worked together so I could talk to the people,” recalls Santo. “I wanted to understand what they wanted us to do, how they wanted the store. I asked women what they wanted different, how they wanted things displayed and I asked the community and volunteers quite a bit. I asked them: What do we need to change?”

Read the full feature in the mid-week News.

Top photo: Angel Thrift Store recently received a new sign. (Photo by Dani Blackburn)

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The interior of the new Thrift Angels has been restructured based on customer and volunteer input. (Photo by Dani Blackburn)