Frankford has a new shopping spot, run by the students of the Howard T. Ennis School.
The public can find secondhand clothing and household accessories for a reasonable cost at the Thrifty Eagle, a retail thrift store located at the G.W. Carver Center.
“We’re open!” said Principal Kris Perfetti. “We want you to come in. It helps teach our kids how to run a store, and we need that support from the community in order for our kids to succeed.”
Student employees cut the ribbon at the Jan. 4 grand opening, surrounded by teachers and district staff, including the superintendent. They’re building job experience through the Ennis STEP (Student-centered Transition Education and Pre-vocational) Program.
At Ennis, where eagles are the mascot, the Indian River School District serves students with significant educational needs.
In STEP, students ages 18 to 21 learn solid employment and independent-living skills, and they forge a transition plan for post-grad life. In the classroom, that means skills such as laundry and cooking. In the workplace, they might learn a restaurant, retail or warehouse job.
For students, this was a unique assignment. Besides customer-service skills, they learned about starting a new business.
“They got to see it from nothing to everything. … They get a better idea of how to set up a store, rather than walking in and everything’s already there,” said teacher Buddy Snyder.
Up to 10 students are assigned to work at the store, on a rotating schedule of about four or five each day.
“The kids have been involved with this from the ground floor,” said Snyder, “from this room being empty to what you see right now — everything from sorting to folding to sizing to helping with layout.”
Goods include new and used clothing for men, women, children and babies; purses; jewelry; shoes; home goods; appliances; picture frames and home décor. School employees and the community have donated the household items, said Nancy Garcia Perez, 20.
How did the student employees feel about the ribboncutting?
“It’s special for us,” said Julia Velasquez, 21, who has worked at the shop nearly every Friday.
“It makes all your hard work worth it!” said para-educator Nicole Holston. “These two girls were our right hands.”
Prices are inexpensive, and proceeds will help offset the cost of field trips and fun community outings for students.
“We never ask any of the parents or students to come up with money for any of that. It ensures the kids are able to” have fun trips, such as bowling or the beach, said Snyder.
Ennis had a thrift shop for years at other locations. But the thrift shop fits perfectly at the G.W. Carver Center, which also houses the IRSD Parent Center Food Pantry, Adult & Community Education, several preschool programs and the George Washington Carver Academy, an alternative school.
After the crowd dispersed on Jan. 4, the students settled in to begin work. They did a walk-through, making sure everything was still in place and ready for the next batch of customers.
Donations can be dropped off at the Thrifty Eagle in Frankford during operating hours or at Howard T. Ennis School in Georgetown during school hours.
Thrifty Eagle is open each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The G.W. Carver Center is located in the former Frankford Elementary School building at 30207 Frankford School Road in Frankford. Call Howard T. Ennis School for more information, at (302) 856-1930.
By Laura Walter