“It’s an awesome feeling to come here every day,” Pinto said. “It’s a community feel. To see the people who come here to shop—who come here every week. Whether they’re doing it for their business, for themselves, or they’re just doing it. It’s such a wonderful feeling. I really love it. To be able to see their kids come in. They’re pregnant, then they have the baby, then they’ll bring the baby in. It’s awesome.”
Pinto took over the Thrift Store just over a year ago. She also owns the consignment store Better Homes and Bargains on Marco Island. As Pinto said it best, “My motto is, ‘a bargain for every budget. Whether you have $20 in your pocket, or you have $1 in your pocket, I want you to leave here happy.’ So that is my motto. I think people like the fact it’s clean and we’re friendly. It has a nice aura to it now. They’re always happy when they come here. And they’re happy when they leave because they know they got a good deal.”
Pinto relies 100% on donations to stock the store. She uses some of the profits to help area children as she explained, “A portion of the proceeds goes to send area children to camp. We appreciate people who donate. They love this store.”
Just then, a shopper chimes in. “I shop here a lot,” the customer shared. “And I like to donate. The store is a lot nicer than it used to be.”
The previous tenant moved on, leaving a store filled with inventory that needed to be liquidated. Plaza owner Chris Shucart contacted Pinto to do the liquidation. Later she decided to take over the store. She gives Shucart a lot of credit for the improvement to the Thrift Store—and the plaza in general. “Chris has been instrumental,” she said. “He’s a really awesome guy. I told him, ‘Watch, it’s never going to be the same as it used to be.’”
In the short year she’s been there, Pinto has noticed that the Hitching Post Plaza has gotten busier.
“The Hitching Post Plaza has a community feel,” she explained. “It’s a very diverse clientele. And I can see that it’s getting busier and busier with the improvements that Chris has made. It’s getting busier. There’s awesome food here. There’s lots to do.”
The Thrift Store has an interesting customer mix.
“Resellers come in to supply their online shops or their flea markets,” she said. “Some of them say they did well during the shutdown because everyone was home and they were shopping. I think it’s leveled off now. Some people look for designer clothes, some look for antiques. Others look for gaming equipment. There’s something for everyone.
“The majority of people are from the East Naples area, Everglades City, Goodland. People from Marco are coming here. Surprisingly enough, we get some people from Miami.”
Pinto accepts donations between 10 and 4, Monday through Saturday. She is fussy about what she offers for sale at the Thrift Store. “We get a lot of clothing, kitchen items and homewares. The quality of donations has really been nice. If somebody calls and a family member has passed away, we’ll go and clean out their home or condo.
“If someone on Marco has a bag of clothing, they can drop them off at Better Homes and Bargains on Marco and we’ll bring it up here. I’m really selective about what I take.”
If you would like to make a donation, email Becky Pinto at email@example.com. You can also call her at 239-331-3157.