For the past 34 years, Amistad Thrift Shop has been a mainstay of the Kingsville community.
Open in the afternoon on Wednesdays and Fridays, the store would have regular patrons stop by looking to shop, donate or simply to chat with old friends. On Friday, the thrift shop closed its doors for the last time, leaving behind a three-decade legacy of charity and camaraderie that customers and volunteers alike are going to miss.
“I don’t want to toot our own horn, but this (shop) has been such a boon to the community,” Doris “Corky” Peacock, manager of the Amistad Thrift Shop, said. “And I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported us.”
Amistad’s roots go back to 1985 when Elena Reisner requested to the elders at the First Presbyterian Church to open a thrift store in Kingsville.
“A place for the less fortunate people, where they’d keep the prices low so they could shop for clothing and household goods,” Peacock said. “And we’ve always kept our prices as low as possible so we could meet our bills and still have money left over to help the community.”
Amistad Thrift Shop first opened at a location in the 200 block of E. Kleberg Avenue.
“It was where Cactus Flower is now,” Peacock said. “And then we moved on to Henrietta (Avenue) across the street of where the old El Jardin restaurant was in 1995.”
The thrift shop moved again in 1998 to its location at 914 S. 14th St., where it remained until its final day on Friday.
Peacock said she joined Amistad in 1990, and took over as the thrift shop’s manager in 2001 after her husband passed away.
“And I’ve been manager all the years since,” she said.
Amistad board treasurer Dorothy Genz said she had been with Amistad “since day one.”
“I was on the first board because Elena wanted me to be,” Genz said. “So I’ve been with it since the very beginning.”
Genz said she stayed with the thrift shop for the entirety of its run because “I believed in what we were doing.”
“We couldn’t do this without her,” Peacock said.
Initially, money brought in by the thrift shop was used to help low income individuals and families pay their utility bills.
“But then it got to where there were so many coming in, we shifted over to giving to charitable organizations,” Peacock said. “Like (Brush Country) CASA, the First Christian Food Bank, the rescue mission in Corpus Christi — and that’s what we’ve been doing for about eight years now.”
While Peacock said they would like to remain open, running and managing the store as she gets older has become difficult.
“The time has come,” she said. “We’ve reached the age where we can’t do it anymore, and people don’t seem to want to step forward and volunteer.”
Peacock said it was the Kingsville community, with their donations and their patronage, that helped keep Amistad open for more than three decades.
“Our customers love to come here,” she said. “We’re open twice a week, in the afternoon, and it’s almost a social gathering. They are devastated that we’re leaving, and we had no idea that they’d be so sad to see us go.”
Alicia De La Rosa said she has been a customer of Amistad “off-and-on throughout the years.”
“I liked to look at the dresses, blouses, shorts and things like that,” she said.
De La Rosa said she and her friends were going to miss visiting the thrift shop.
“There are a lot of people who come here, and I know they are going to miss it, too,” she said. “And I want them to know how much I appreciated all that they’ve done for us. It is such a great place.”
Albert Garcia, a customer of Amistad for the past 12 years, said he was sad seeing the shop close its doors.
“Because it served a purpose,” Garcia said. “What they were doing did a lot of good for the community.”
Peacock said the thrift shop also has “some of the most wonderful volunteers.”
“This has always been totally voluntary,” Genz said. “Nobody has ever been paid working here. Ever.”
Peacock said that while closing the store is the right decision, she will be sad to see it go.
“This was my baby,” she said. “I found my calling, but the time has come. It’s time to quit.”
Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at email@example.com or (361) 221-0251.