The long empty Andronico’s store has been transformed and opened today as a new Savers Thrift Store. The parking lot was empty when I pulled up at 8:15 AM after driving my husband to BART.
Had a chance to talk first with an enthusiastic customer who was looking forward to shopping as she and her sister had been to other Savers including Salinas and Reno, and she found them useful to find bargains.
I waited while 50 enthusiastic T shirted staff and supervisors gathered in the parking lot to take photos. The opening spirit was high with lots of laughter, red balloons, and camaraderie. New jobs, training and caring for their staff is part of the Saver’s program.
I talked with CEO Ken Alterman, who flew down from the headquarters in Bellevue Washington about the business that started in 1954 in San Francisco (but is no longer located in San Francisco as others like Goodwill, Salvation Army and Out of the Closet moved in to expand the burgeoning thrift and recycling services. Savers has grown to over 300 stores in the USA, Canada and Australia. The closest other stores to Berkeley include Dublin, Milpitas, Redwood City, Reno, Salinas, San Jose, Sparks, and Vacaville,
I asked about the earlier parking lot problem which affected other businesses in that location, but it appears workable solutions have been found. Now everyone feels there will be more business to the area which will benefit and not deter the neighborhood. Having the building occupied is good. Savers faced a complicated remodeling project to renovate to fit their specific needs.
Saver’s Donation Center now occupies the building where UNICEF and Grey Panthers offices were located. That’s good for neighbors also, as this is a perfect time to release stuff from the past and enjoy emptiness a bit before restocking on recycled clothing, hats, bags, shoes, housewares, jewelry, vintage and collectibles, furniture, unexpected treasures, and books.