New thrift store brings goods, outreach to south Fountain
Last updated 6/9/2021 at 9:33am
The storefront at 594 S. Santa Fe Ave. that used to house Dick's Rock Shop has now become Connie's Cupboard, a thrift store specializing in helping Fountain residents.
Constance "Connie" Whisenhunt is the owner of Connie's Cupboard, and she describes herself as "an entrepreneur trying to make my own world a little bit better." She has lived in Fountain for 28 years, and is involved in various community service projects and ventures. Running a community-oriented thrift store has been particularly important for her.
"I'm a native of Pueblo, and as a child the only time I really got new clothes was when we went to a thrift store," Whisenhunt said. "I just think that thrift stores are an important thread in the community to have for people who are on a budget."
Whisenhunt started collecting secondhand items to donate or sell through a combination of community service projects and clothing she got through a business venture.
"I run an outreach for the homeless, and I get a lot of donations – clothes, shoes, hats, gloves, jackets and blankets," she explained. "And then I have a house cleaning business, and when people are getting rid of things they just leave me with it. They usually have a huge pile of things... So it was just kind of sharing, giving or selling a few things online. Then the building became available, I did the interview, filled out the application, did the background check and I got the building. So, here I go!"
Whisenhunt has been renting space for her thrift store at different places for about six years, and she is excited about the fact that owning a building opens the possibility to really "claim the space." This is especially important because she wants to do something local that will help the Santa Fe Avenue area.
"I want to be a blessing to the community, first of all," she said. "There are a lot of people who perhaps don't have transportation, who can't drive all the way up to Goodwill. I'm on the lower end of Fountain and there's a lot of apartment complexes and hotels, and the truck stop has a hotel, so there are a lot of people who are living day to day, who don't have access to Goodwill or to go up the road to Walmart. They can come to my store, they can pick out clean clothes; if I have any toiletries, they're welcome to the toiletries – I really am focusing on trying to be a blessing to the community. Fountain is trying to kind of upgrade that whole Santa Fe Avenue area, make it more attractive to tourists, and I think I can contribute to that. I've really claimed this parking lot, I've claimed this building, I've painted it – that's the advantage of having your own store."
Clothing is just one of the many items sold at Connie's Cupboard. Its inventory, among other things, includes books, records, clothes (men, women, children and infants), toys, collectibles, household items and small furniture.
"I'm focusing on everything except large furniture," Whisenhunt said. "My friend Tanya owns Second Chance, and she's a building away from me and she's a destination store for furniture. She does the furniture, and I do everything else."
Connie's Cupboard held its grand opening on June 5. The opening event included a prayer for the building by Pastor David Johnston of Restoration Church, a ribbon cutting, light refreshments and drawings for door prizes. Bob Collopy, who donated many of his own collectibles to the store and serves as Connie's silent business partner, said a few words about how the store will benefit people and how excited he was to be involved.
"It is my privilege to be Connie's business partner, and a privilege to be her friend," Collopy said.
Whisenhunt thanked a variety of businesses and people who donated time or money to help her set up the store, and those who had donated items for door prizes. She ended by introducing her trusted friends Vicky Campbell and Margaret Mondragon, who will also help run Connie's Cupboard.
"I'm looking forward to traveling this journey with my childhood friends, people that I trust in, people that I love," Whisenhunt said.
The Facebook page for Connie's Cupboard lists its hours as noon-7 p.m. on Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. Hours will be modified through June 1 for staff training. As of press time, the store will only be taking donations on Sundays. To find out more, check out the Facebook page or call 719-205-5853.