Salkum’s Nonprofit Thrift Shop Sells for Good

Proceeds From God’s Closet Too Fund Scholarships, Community Assistance


When Thomasena Seifert was a child, one of her favorite things was going to garage sales with her mom, grandma and aunt. It was a fun outing that also helped them stretch their family budget.

It is that childhood memory that sparked her dream of owning a thrift store in her hometown of Salkum.

“I thought, ‘One day I’m going to own a thrift store and help people out,’” Seifert said.

God’s Closet Too is Seifert’s dream come true. The nonprofit thrift store officially opened in May 2020, though Seifert said the location has deeper roots in the community. The store at the same intersection as the Brown Shack Tavern had formerly housed a thrift store owned and operated by a local church. Seifert had been a volunteer at the shop for several years. When the church announced it would be closing, along with its thrift store, Seifert said she felt a calling to keep the shop open.

“I said, ‘Give me one week,’ and in one week I had enough people to keep it going,” Seifert said.

After gaining ownership of the thrift store in January 2020, Seifert took a few months to make needed changes to the building, including adding Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, which she said made one shopper cry tears of joy. Reopening in May 2020 was a challenge, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating new regulations for the group and new economic struggles for folks in their area.

“It’s hard work but I think we’re all pretty proud of it now,” said volunteer Gloria Cole. “Everybody said we weren’t going to make it our first year.”

They did make it through their first year. Then came 2021, when the shop faced the expense of being broken into several times. One particularly heart-breaking burglary occurred just before Christmas when they lost a large number of donated Christmas presents for local kids. Thankfully, community members stepped up and replaced the stolen items.

“The outpouring from the community was just amazing,” said volunteer Clayton Achison. “It’s an amazing feeling to see the face of a child who wasn’t expecting anything like that.”

It is the support of many that keeps God’s Closet Too open. The shop has regular donors who bring in items for the shop on a regular basis, including one family that comes with a truck and trailer loaded from three hours away in Oregon.

There are also no paid workers at God's Closet Too, which keeps their overhead low. Seifert, who is also unpaid, said she is able to do the work because her husband, William, has a good job and supports her dream.

“He said, ‘If this is what you want to do, do it,’” Seifert said.

The main mission that keeps the God’s Closet Too volunteers going is that proceeds from all of their sales benefit scholarships for local high school graduates. In 2022, the nonprofit was able to fund three scholarships. Seifert said she chooses the recipients by putting the names into a bucket and drawing them out. She said she does this because she wants there to be no bias in the process.

“If I had the money, I’d support them all,” she said.

Beyond scholarship funds, Seifert often uses proceeds from God’s Closet Too to help out other local kids raising money for sports, experiences or extracurricular activities.

“Anything to do with the kids, I will sponsor it,” Seifert said.

But there are many other ways in which God’s Closet Too also supports the Salkum community. Many people in this unincorporated part of East Lewis County struggle economically and Seifert said she purposefully keeps prices in the shop low in order to be accessible to everyone. She has also been known to work out a deal with someone who is truly in need but may not be able to pay. Seifert said she watches Facebook for locals looking for help and will offer what the shop can offer.

“A lot of people around there just don’t have a lot so you learn to work with them,” Cole said. “We help the community whenever they need it.”

The group at God’s Closet Too is committed to this mission because they are all Salkum residents, some lifelong. Each was connected to Seifert in one way or another before coming to God's Closet Too and they all say they stay involved because they like helping the community. For instance, Achison moved to Salkum from California in 2006 to be closer to family and said the first few weeks in his new home were a bit of a culture shock, but he now can’t imagine living anywhere else. He said he appreciates his adopted home for the peace and quiet but also for the personalities he has met. He pointed toward a source of local humor across the street from the thrift store — tin cans on a string someone put in the defunct phone booth outside the Salkum Super Market.

“There’s problems out here like anywhere else but there’s a lot of good, too,” Achison said.

Long term, Seifert would eventually like to buy a building in Salkum to house God’s Closet Too so that they do not have to continue to pay rent. Supporters would like to see the store expand but said they would always stay in Salkum and their focus would always be on people over profits.

“We’re not going to make a million but we’re going to make a lot of people happy,” Cole said.

God’s Closet Too

Where: 154 Salkum Road, Salkum

Contact: 360-985-0080

Open: Weather permitting through September, outdoor sales Fridays and Saturdays

Online: @wawoman2u on Facebook