ENID, Okla. — Park Avenue Thrift
Park Avenue Thrift was founded in October 2007 as a result of a question pondered by co-directors Paula Nightengale and David Hume: “Would you rather have a half-million dollars or give away a half-million dollars?”
Nightengale said she posed that question to Hume, and they both agreed it would be much more fun to give away wealth than to accumulate it.
In the less-than six years that have passed, Park Avenue Thrift has grown into a large operation that stretches far beyond the walls of the store front at Grand and Garriott.
The non-profit now is closing in on the $1 million mark of donations to community charities and quality of life non-profits, all funded by donations and purchases at the thrift store.
Nightengale said Park Avenue Thrift fills a niche that does not compete with the services provided by Salvation Army and Hope Outreach.
She said Park Avenue uses store proceeds to support local quality of life initiatives, with a portion going to other non-profit organizations that provide direct “benevolence services” to those in need.
Nightengale said the benevolence organizations “have a specific mission to help someone with a specific need,” and the broader community initiatives are ones that “are there to help everyone by raising the quality of life for the entire community.”
She said Park Avenue Thrift gives a portion to direct benevolence charities but focuses on the community quality of life initiatives to fill an open niche, and to support improvement of the community as a whole.
“It’s almost like a tithe goes to the benevolence side of things,” Nightengale said. “But, our primary focus is to support a broad community quality of life. The question we have to ask is ‘How does this affect the entire community?’”
Park Avenue Thrift provides direct monetary support and in-kind donations to more than 30 local non-profits, schools and community development organizations, such as Enid Symphony Orchestra, Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse, Main Street Enid, Creative Arts Enid and Gaslight Theatre.
Nightengale said the in-kind donations are a preferred method of giving for Park Avenue Thrift, because it helps the recipient organizations to raise even greater sums.
“It really helps them when they can say, ‘If you donate, it will be doubled,’ and we really like to help leverage donations in the community that way,” she said.
By supporting quality of life organizations with monetary donations, Nightengale said Park Avenue Thrift helps those organizations focus less on fundraising and more on improving the community.
“We wanted to lighten the load for them,” she said, “so they could be more about doing the thing they do, instead of trying to support the thing they do.”
Nightengale said thrift store shopping helps everyone in the process, from the donor to the organization or person in need who receives the benefits of sales.
“It’s win-win, all the way around,” Nightengale said. “The shopper wins, the donor wins, the organization wins ... the whole community wins.”
Now, as Park Avenue Thrift approaches the $1million mark in its community contributions, Nightengale said she expects that pace of giving to increase in the coming years.
“That happens because of people,” Nightengale said. “It’s because of people who donate, people who shop, people who work here and people out in the community who are making our city a better place to live. People make all the difference.”