The clothes you’ll find at the local Sparks store have been donated through a church-based community effort to provide clothing for homeless women who have found shelter at Hosanna Home, an organization which takes in homeless females to help them gain traction and find a job.
Myke Poston, volunteer coordinator at Esther’s Closet, said the store first opened in Reno in February of 2011 when clothing donations came pouring in. In 2012 talks began of opening a Sparks location and inventory was combined and centralized in its current location on Greenbrae Drive where the store found its much needed space.
“It is amazing the donations we have gotten from women,” Poston said Wednesday. “This community, we’re finding, is a good place for us to be because we have a lot of different denominations of women who come in here and it gives us another way of reaching out to them. And, I think everyone knows someone who is homeless or who has left the house.”
Poston said the store prides itself on being much more than just a place for women in need to find discount clothing. With its 100 percent volunteer staff, the store’s popularity comes from the staff’s ability to attract those looking for a casual conversation.
“We are always having friends that come in and wander around. Sometimes they come in and buy something and sometimes it is just to stop in and say ‘hi,’” she said. “I think that is what I really love is that we have friends here also who have watched us change and grow as we do.
The women are really good and they love coming in here. It is very safe and secure because women love to come in and just wander. They can try on as many clothes as they want and they are just ecstatic when they come out.
“We want it to be some place besides a store to come in and have to purchase something. We have got a lot of senior citizens in the area who like to come in and visit and that is important to us.”
Poston said the store’s location in the Greenbrae shopping center, right next to Sparks Christian Fellowship, is perfect for foot traffic from the church and from ladies walking their children to and from school.
When asked what differentiates Esther’s Closet from other recycled or second-hand clothing stores Poston said its prices and target audience ensure its ability to remain open. She said prices beginning at just $3 for sometimes unused clothes has several advantages.
“We are very picky with the clothes,” she said. “We look them over, some of them we wash and some of them come washed, and we look them over to make sure all the buttons are on them or they zip up.
“We specialize in just women’s clothing. Anything that woman wants and any accessories that needs to go on a woman we specialize in and our prices here are incredible. It doesn’t do us any good to keep them on the rack so we keep our prices extremely reasonable so you don’t feel bad about buying something.”
Beyond the competitive pricing, Esther's Closet is also a stop for women living at Hosanna Home who are preparing to enter the job market and looking for some volunteer hours. Poston said women from the home begin a six-month work program designed to help them gain confidence to get back on their feet.
“They come in here to get their clothes, we help them with interviews, help them get on the internet and anything we can to help them get out there and get that job and become that responsible person,” she said adding that a “rent” is paid at the home that fuels a trust fund for the women. “When their six months are up, and we think they are ready to get out in the world and they have good direction, then they have these funds they can take to get their apartment and whatever else they need.
“We don’t just want to help them get a job and feel good about themselves and then let them go. They have always got the opportunity to come back and volunteer here or just come back because it becomes a family.”
Poston said a popular option for women who have come through the Hosanna Home work program, and those who frequent the many local churches aiding the supplies inside Esther’s Closet, is returning to the store to help collect, clean and display clothing. She said the volunteering looks great on the women’s resumes and helps continue the ideas the staff members use to maintain the store.
“I think (the motivation) is seeing the smiling faces and the warm hearts that come out of here thinking they have gotten a deal,” Poston said. “Just knowing that we are being gifted abundantly here keeps us excited about keeping this going and knowing we are in the right place. The Lord works in mysterious ways and he certainly has worked here.”
Esther’s Closet is located at 544 Greenbrae Drive in Sparks and is open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information about Esther’s Closet or Hosanna Home, visit http://hosannahome.org/Esther_s_Closet.