Missoula thrift store teaching students valuable life lessons

Posted at 10:57 AM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 12:57:35-05

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    MISSOULA (KPAX TV) — It might be the best little thrift store you didn’t know was there.

It’s called the Eagle’s Nest and it doesn’t just have the best deals in town, it’s also introducing high school students to the world of retail.

When you walk through the doors, you’ll find it’s the students who are in charge. They sell and stock, display and organize the merchandise all while getting real-life experience in the retail world.

“This gives them an experience where they are monitored and also have access to the public so people can come in and they can learn how to handle money, give back chance which is huge,” explained Big Sky High School Vocational Prep teacher LanAnn Bryant.

“Provide customer service, learn how to sort donations learn how to work with other folks even from other schools,” she added.

It’s part of the Missoula County Public Schools vocational preparation program that gives the students a real-life, off-campus experience in a store.

“I am one of those students that likes to work with their hands. I also usually like to figure problems out and stuff,” Zachary Parker said.

“It’s good retail experience because my dad is a retail salesman so that’s how I got used to it so quickly,” added Thomas Veneklasen.

The thrift shop first opened in 2011, but Wednesday marked the grand re-opening with the Eagle’s Nest moving from Big Sky High School to 1700 South Avenue West, behind Jefferson School.

There’s better bus service at the new location and because of that, some Sentinel High School students have joined the program.

“And it’s so important for these kids to be able to learn some skills so that when they graduate and go out into the world of work that they have some skills that make them employable,” explained Sentinel High School Vocational Prep teacher Ashley House.

With the exception of some handmade items, nothing in the store costs more than $10 – and the money earned goes to local non-profits. People can also get store credit by bringing in non-perishable food.

It’s a kind of retail therapy that can set in motion a desire to find a place in the business world that’s already giving the students a boost of confidence that they can do anything.

“The hope here is that they have enough experience and enough confidence in themselves that they can go out and get a job,” Bryant told MTN News.

Plans are now in the works to also include Hellgate High School students at the Eagle’s Nest.

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Mark R Thorsell