Sparty’s Thrift Shop in Kamsack puts the cycle in recycling

Well known actor, Ed Begley Jr. was quoted as saying, “If you’re not buying recycled products, you’re not really recycling.”

While there are various ways to recycle, some of us may not be in the habit of participating in the full “cycle” of recycling. For those who suspect this to be true – there is hope. Thrift shopping can be a wonderful way to complete the cycle and support the community to boot.

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Sparty’s Thrift Shop, located at 453 Third Avenue in Kamsack is a retail destination that has the potential to satisfy shoppers looking to recycle or upcycle, all the while supporting programs at the Kamsack Comprehensive Institute and the community at large. Partners Claire Bishop and Nicola Straub, who are both employees at KCI, manage the store in addition to holding full-time jobs. Teagan Ruf, employee, greets customers when the store is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday afternoons.

“With COVID restrictions and extremely cold winter weather, it is not feasible to open the store beyond Friday afternoons. Once circumstances improve, we do intend to expand our hours,” explained Bishop.

Prior to COVID-19, students from KCI were involved in retail work experience positions at the store. While safety concerns for youth working in the public have put that practice on hold, the thrift shop still endeavors to support the school. With the current limited operating schedule, the shop barely meets expenses like rent and heating bills. It may take months to generate a profit, but when it does, the money is funneled right back into the community.

Recently, Sparty’s made a donation of $2,000 that will contribute to funding efforts for the Kamsack high school. Expenses like field trips, the breakfast program, or special project expenses will all benefit from the donation.

Keeping the thrift store afloat also serves the community in ways people might not think of. In the case of local house fires, Bishop and Straub are always ready to open the doors of the store to offer private shopping to victims. Nearby shelters and victim services programs can also turn to the store for much needed resources. In the case of a community member passing without family members nearby, Bishop and Straub will offer assistance in clearing the home.


With the expectation of a new, non-profit housing initiative for people with disabilities being erected in Kamsack, there are plans shaping for the thrift store to provide residents with a place of work – making a difference in their community while building work experience, retail skills and social skills.

Bishop said the store is always happy to receive gently used and freshly washed clothing, household, and furniture donations. Although Sparty’s doesn’t have the floor space to display large items, they can be stored in a warehouse until sold.

“For furniture items, we arrange for people to unload them at the warehouse. We take photos that are posted on our Facebook page. Buyers can browse online and arrange to pick up their items by appointment.”

According to Ruf, a university student who works part-time in the shop, some amazing antique and vintage treasures have come through donations to the store. Naturally, such items are scooped up quickly, but it won’t be long before a new treasure is put out for some lucky shopper who steps inside at just the right time.

For parents who understand how rapidly children outgrow their shoes and clothing, second hand shopping is a brilliant way to stretch the family budget. Sparty’s offers promotions like the five-dollar fill-a-bag event, where just five dollars can buy as many clothes as one can fit inside a single co-op grocery bag.

“Many people may be feeling ‘crafty’ after being shut in during the pandemic winter,” offered Bishop. “For someone looking to make something with denim, we have plenty of jeans in stock. There are all kinds of materials for quilting and craft supplies, and some really unique knick-knacks. You just never know what you might find.”