We all love thrift stores and secondhand treasures, but many of you may not know about or have shopped at the Key on Central located at 1030 Central Ave. in Fort Dodge. It is a wonderful store filled with bargains and fabulous merchandise. It is open to the public Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. It is the brainchild of the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center also located in Fort Dodge, but serving eight surrounding counties.
The store is full of donated merchandise in great condition just waiting for you and the prices are so good you cannot leave without taking an armload of merchandise with you. We have clothing, good clothing in every size from baby to adult. We have used furniture and our inventory changes daily so you need to get in often to find those deals. We have towels, bedding, pillows, house wares, wall art and much more. Some customers check out our jewelry daily. Books - both for adults and children - arrive daily as well. You never know what you will find. If you love garage sales this is the biggest sale you will find and rain or shine, blizzard or heat we are there to serve you. It is a clean, pleasant retail atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.
The Key, as we call it, opened in 2008 and except for brief periods of renovation and reorganization has remained opened serving our community as the place to go for bargain shopping. It is an integral part of D/SAOC and serves to subsidize our victim service agency with everything we need to help the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault along with violent crime to start over. We can furnish a house; have great clothes for a court appearance, outfit children and make starting over less painful by providing the basic needs of a household. For those people who are working with D/SAOC it is at no cost to them. Our counselors assist clients with their shopping needs making sure they feel comfortable with their choices and making sure they have what they need to start a new life.
The Key also provides needed furnishings for our shelter such as furniture, bedding, kitchen utensils, glassware etc. If we need something at the shelter we can always find it at the Key. Again, thanks to our generous supporters who donate their used goods to us every day. I honestly don't know what we would do without their generosity. So many people shop with us and donate back just for experience of changing their own homes without spending a fortune.
Except for the store manager, this operation is staffed entirely by volunteers. These volunteers are the most wonderful people in the world and that is not an exaggeration. We have one volunteer who comes daily just as if she had a full-time job. Others give several days a week and some a few hours but they are people we depend on and without them we could not keep the store open. They value our mission as we do their commitment to serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault because it is all about the mission. Service to our fellow human beings is what drives everyone at the Key and D/SAOC. In our small way we are making a difference in the lives of people every day. We can improve the quality of their life by making sure they do not go without basic needs. We can make sure children are dressed well and not singled out at school. We can improve Mom's wardrobe increasing self-esteem. Taking the pressure off is our goal and we love it.
The work is hard, the pay nonexistent and the rewards priceless. You can help in so many ways, but the easiest way to help is by walking in the store and taking a look around. We know once you begin shopping at the Key on Central you will come back. Tell your friends and make it a regular stop on a fun day out just browsing around.
Bring your gently used items to the Key including used furniture. We want it, we need it and furniture is our hottest item. Repurposing is the trend. Remember the store is open to everyone. If you have any question call D/SAOC at 955-2273.
If you would like to volunteer we would love to talk to you. Something about this store just gets in your blood. Ask any of the volunteers. They came for a day and stayed and then they just kept coming back. Now it is a family taking care of D/SAOC in a way that is supportive, loving and kind. The volunteers at the Key are part of the D/SAOC family. Join our family, shop the Key and get rid of the trash and make it someone's treasure by reselling at the Key on Central. Mention this article and get a onetime surprise bonus. Tell them Connie sent you.
Connie Harris is executive director of the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center.