I have been a shopper of the ARC Thrift store on South Broadway for a number of years. Not only is it a great place to find the perfect chambray shirt or lightly used office chair or piece of home décor, it is a special part of our community on South Broadway’s Antique Row.
The ARC is a nonprofit organization operating all over Colorado – but what makes the store on South Broadway so special is the people in it. Not only is the store extremely well organized, it is obviously well managed and one can tell this from the moment they walk in.
Barbara has been managing the ARC on South Broadway for 15 months but has been with the ARC for nine years. She worked for major corporations like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue before transitioning to her current career.
“Working in a thrift store is like a treasure hunt every day. It’s also extremely rewarding. All the money we make after expenses goes to the ARC programs. In this store, we have 9 employees with developmental disabilities and companywide, we have over 200.”
I was under the impression that working with people with disabilities would be hard – but Barbara told me something so refreshing, “Actually, it’s awesome. I have one employee in my store in Broomfield and every day she came in the front door laughing. She would give everyone a big hug and was so excited just to be there. They don’t want to call off. They are never looking to get out early. They work hard and are happy. They are a pleasure to be around.” What a refreshing take on work ethic in a world where it’s common for employees to look for ways to cut corners.
My heart just about overflowed when Barbara described and showed me some of the pictures of outreach and programs that the money goes to that the ARC brings in.
“We have ARC University for our employees and ARC Ambassadors. Once a month we do a social event like bowling, lunch and a movie, or karaoke. Once a month they can go to ARC University and depending on how many classes they attended that year, is the degree they get at the end of the year from Associate to Doctorate. They wear a red graduation cap and they are so excited.”
Not every day is easy – like any career. I asked Barbara what keeps her going after the long days. “It’s a reward to see the progress that ARC has made over the years and where our money goes. It’s so much more rewarding than anything I have done before this. You are tired every night because this is very physical work but when you know that it is meaningful, you feel good about yourself and what you are putting your life into, even on hard days.”
For the last few years, a sweet and hardworking cashier and general “jack of all trades” Kyle has always greeted me with a warm hug and beaming smile every time I come into the ARC. Some days, it’s the complete highlight of my day so I had to sit down with Kyle and chat with him about his career at the ARC.
“It’s been four years that I have been working here. I love my job. We are trying to organize everything around here. Everyone likes me because I am always here and doing my job.” Very true! Everyone likes someone who is dependable and that you can count on – especially with a positive attitude.
“I am not going to quit this job. I am going to keep this job forever. My future and my goals are to do a lot of fun things. I really enjoy helping people – if they need my help I just go over there and help them with whatever is going on or if they have a problem.”
I had to think to myself when I heard this – if everyone had this kind of work ethic and drive, wouldn’t we all be really successful?
When asked if the people he works with at the ARC have been important to him, Kyle immediately lit up with a huge smile just thinking about them. “These people make my days special. My friend Cynthia and I have been working together as a team. I am focused, I listen, and I stay on task.”
When asked if he thought about ever working anywhere else, Kyle immediately responded, “This is my career. THIS IS MY CAREER. This is where I belong.”
The ARC stores and the ARC on South Broadway are a community resource – giving back tenfold what they take in. I am a happy supporter of them and continue to be. With more ARC locations opening up soon in Centennial and across Colorado, bringing new work opportunities and much needed programs, the good work is only spreading and that is something we can all take pride in and support.
Visit the ARC on South Broadway and remember to say “Hi!” to Kyle, you can usually see him at the front counter most weekdays.