Maura Truitt is the marketing director for the Second Start Thrift shop, a store that sells second-hand clothing, accessories, house wear and other goods. The sales support the Newton Learning Center, a private school for children with autism. Because Newton is not a public school, it doesn’t receive the tax revenue support public schools receive every year.
“People are still finding out about us,” Truitt said. “We opened last year in order to raise more funds for the school. We’re still in the midst of building the business and still trying to get our name out there. I’ve posted ads on Craigslist, spreading the news by word-of-mouth, stopped at yard sales. I stopped in 10 different businesses this week, letting them know that we’re here and who we are.”
Competition lives around the corner – Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission Thrift Store is only a few shops away in the same shopping center.
“We’re actually happy that they’re here,” Truitt said. “They help draw in people with that mantra of shopping at thrift stores. They shop at that store and they can see ours so they come in. It’s like a street corner that has a lot of different restaurants – that one corner attracts a lot of business.”
The holiday season was a successful one for the store as workers just finished up packing away all the Christmas-themed items.
“We did well this holiday season, sold some nice things,” Truitt said. “Donations are running a bit low. But they tend to get that way after Christmas-time.
Second Start is currently accepting donations and offers free pick ups.
“We’re always looking for furniture,” Truitt said. “It sells quickly and is always in high demand. We just ask that it’s clean with no tears, rips or stains.”
The Newton Learning Center was founded in 2003 in California, when it was launched in by Second Start, a program that offers assistance for children with severe disabilities, like autism and Asperger’s syndrome. In 2007, the San Jose-based program expanded out to Nevada. The school focuses on social thinking, teaching the students proper social skills and unwritten societal rules and how to regulate one’s behavior. Newton Learning Center offers grades first through 12, providing students with emotional, behavioral and speech therapy sessions for an extra cost. Tuition is based on a sliding scale of what the family can afford. Scholarships are available for students who qualify.
Truitt and her family moved to Sparks last summer from Juneau, Alaska for her son to attend the Newton Learning Center.
“It was a huge transition but it was a perfect fit from day one,” Truitt said, about her son’s experience at Newton. “The kids are able to focus in school and make friends, which is a first-time thing for some of them. Often times, these kids are bullied.
“Their defenses are up and they’re guarded. They don’t have opportunities to befriend someone.”
The thrift store is now looking for volunteers to help clean, sort through clothes and price items. Those who are interested in volunteering must be at least 18 years old, fill out a volunteer application at the store and pass a screen test. There is no requirement for how many hours one must serve.
“I just want everyone to know we’re here,” Truitt said. “We’re trying to raise awareness for autism and the Newton Learning Center.”
For more information about the Second Start Thrift Shop, call 410-1179. Second Start Thrift Shop is located at 690 Greenbrae Dr. in the Greenbrae shopping center in Sparks. It is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.