By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison KaiserslauternNovember 9, 2012
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Cutting the ribbon on Pulaski Barracks' new thrift store ushered in a new era to the Kaiserslautern Landstuhl Spouses Association's ongoing devotion to the Kaiserslautern Military Community.
Jeffrey Crisp, deputy to the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern commander, joined several KLSA members for the Nov. 1 opening at building 2923, next door the Pulaski Dental Clinic.
"The KLSA and their thrift stores are an important part of our community and have been nearly half a century," Crisp said. "We value their presence in our garrison and are proud to support their efforts."
The previous Pulaski store just didn't have enough space, said manager Christine Bohl-Bellajaro.
"We wanted to move somewhere bigger, so we can provide more for the community," she said.
Moving took volunteers two weeks of hard work, hauling inventory from their former building, a few blocks away. The local rugby team helped, muscling cabinets and heavy items before their practice, she said.
On opening day, German crafts were raffled. Right away, browsing patrons found bargains.
Children's items don't last long, Bohl-Bellajaro said. Electronics -- especially transformers and 220 volt appliances -- also sell fast. Newcomers often find pots, pans and dishes or other things needed while awaiting their household shipments. Each Thursday, customers can stuff a thrift store bag and pay five dollars for whatever fits, she said. And they take in both consignments and donations from KMC members.
"Sometimes people come for souvenir gifts," Bohl-Bellajaro said. "People always are donating 'steins' and other original German stuff."
But the thrift store at Pulaski and its sister shop at Landstuhl's Wilson Barracks are more than just a places find a deal. Proceeds are donated to KMC organizations, to include youth groups, school programs, scouting troops, chaplain's closets and wounded warrior programs.
"It fully goes back into the community," Bohl-Bellajaro said.
In 2011, they donated more than $184,000, according to their website. Each year, in fact, the KLSA donates thousands of dollars each year to local organizations -- something they've been doing for nearly five decades.
In a memo dated Sept. 18, 1963, the Army authorized the Kaiserslautern Officers' and Civilian' Wives' Club -- the forerunner to the KLSA -- to operate a thrift shop on Vogelweh, which at the time was still an Army post. The KLSA recently posted the historical document and photos from the original opening in their Facebook page.
KLSA volunteers work hard but they also have fun, Bohl-Bellajaro said.
"We're a great team, devoted to giving back to the community," she said.
To find out more about the KLSA and the local thrift stores visit http://klsagrapevine.org