“A sorrow shared is half the sorrow. A joy shared is twice the joy.” Most cultures have a version of this proverb and it is more relevant than ever. Researchers are increasingly alarmed at statistics showing a growth in sorrow and loneliness – as much as half the adult population by some measures – in the United States and are calling it a modern epidemic. Chronic loneliness is being linked to physical illness, functional and cognitive decline, and even early death.
Connecting to others socially is widely understood to be crucial to our wellness and even survival. When people don’t have ready cash, it can further isolate them because most public places where folks can interact and connect with others cost money; from coffee shops to movie theatres to adult education classes. While library doors are open, they aren’t ideal environments for sustained conversation.
The Community Closet Thrift Store offers a no-cost, welcoming, accepting and neutral environment where people can go any day of the week for as much, or as little, socialization as they desire. Customers are never pressured to buy anything, but if they do, it’s affordable. There’s new inventory on the floor daily so there’s always an excuse to browse the books, clothing racks, kitchen, sports or craft shelves and connect with other regulars, staff, or just discover stimulating products.
At the Community Closet, we’ve always been sensitive to creating an environment free from the traditional thrift store stigma. We are dedicated to providing clients with philanthropic opportunities through our monthly community charity donation jar, literacy with free books, offering meaningful volunteer opportunities, a drop off location for essentials like diapers for the Park County Diaper Depot, or even sharing fresh garden veggies like the giant zucchini waiting in the free bin. We enjoy having spontaneous parties that shoppers can enjoy and participate in; you never know what fun you’ll find when you open our doors.
“The Community Closet has organically grown into an environment where people go for more than thrift goods, it’s also a safe place to connect with people. We have so many regulars who come once a week or more often,” says Founder and CEO Caron Cooper, “I made the decision to open Sundays because I knew our shoppers needed a place to hang out.”
While curing loneliness may be a side-effect of the Community Closet’s mission and function, we’re happy to play as many positive roles in our community as possible. Feel free to share your stories of meeting and greeting while at the Community Closet.