Arc replaces Savers in Littleton with great deals for a good cause

Arc replaces Savers with great deals for a good cause


After a six-month hiatus, thrift store chic is back in style at Woodlawn Shopping Center.

Arc Thrift Store will hold the grand opening for its new store at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 7 at 1400 W. Littleton Blvd., in the distinctive swoop-roofed old Safeway building.

The building was home to a Savers thrift store until March, when the chain abruptly closed all its Colorado stores, citing poor sales in the region.

Arc, on the other hand, is on the ascent: the Littleton store is the chain’s 26th location, with the 27th opening later this year and several more in the works.

“The new store is beautiful,” said cashier Aimee Rathburn, who also worked at Savers before it closed. “It’s clean, it smells good — it’s a very upbeat attitude. It helps a lot of people who don’t have the money to go to Macy’s. That’s a lot of people in our society.”

Working with developmentally disabled

Arc Thrift Stores are the fundraising wing of Arc of the United States, a nationwide nonprofit that funds advocacy programs for people with developmental disabilities. Three hundred of Arc’s 1,500 Colorado employees have developmental disabilities, including an anticipated 10 to 15 employees out of 40 or so at the Littleton store.

“Almost to a person, they tend to be appreciative and loving,” said Arc of Colorado CEO Lloyd Lewis. “They love their jobs, they hate to miss work and love to contribute whatever they can. They think if they miss work for a day the store will collapse.”

Lewis came to Arc from the corporate world in 2005. He became involved after his son Kennedy was born with Down syndrome in 2003.

“When I first started, I would meet our intellectually disabled employees, and I would come away from the meetings thinking, ‘Who’s really disabled?’ ” Lewis said. “Me, the aggressive Type-A business guy, or these people who tend to be very gentle and appreciative? It gave me a different perspective.”

Arc helps developmentally disabled people find jobs, housing, medical services and education, Lewis said.

Arc also hosts “Arc University,” a series of life skills classes for its developmentally disabled employees, covering topics like money management, computers and pet care.

“When they walk across the stage at graduation,” Lewis said, “you’d think it was Harvard from the way they react when we hand them their certificates of participation.”

Arc of Colorado has a Littleton connection: CFO Bruce Stahlman is a former Littleton city council member.

“This is going to be a great spot for us,” Lewis said. “Littletonians are very generous, and people like our mission and the way we operate our stores.”

‘An amazing karma’

Arc also bucks the thrift store stereotype, Rathburn said.

“We’re very picky in the back about what we put out,” Rathburn said. “If it’s torn, filthy, raggedy, smelly or covered in cat hair, it doesn’t come out on the floor.”

Arc’s soft opening kicked off on Aug. 28, and within a few hours the store was filled with shoppers, mostly passersby.

“We set this up in five weeks, from bare bones to what you see here,” said store manager George Dorman. “This building has an amazing karma about it.”

Shoppers were already unearthing treasures.

“Check out this umbrella thing — do you think it’s really old?” asked Jennifer Jennings, as she unfurled an antique-looking parasol. “Hold it — it’s well made, right? That’s what I love about thrifting. It’s more fun to go through a bunch of stuff. You never know what you’ll find.”

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