We’ve known about The Ramblin’ Closet for awhile now and have even had the opportunity to drop off a few bags of clothing. But we weren’t really sure who was behind this non-profit or the story that went along with it, so we stopped in and spoke with Linda Holman, owner of the store, and some of the wonderful group of people she has working for her – Kathy Richardson, Celia Balderas and Yahaira Balderas.
We were interested to find out how The Ramblin’ Closet came to be! Linda told us, “It was originally my husband, Tom’s, idea. He wanted to equip a trailer with a generator, a heater and an air conditioner and follow the Doctors Without Borders. His idea was to give away clothing to those that had come in for medical treatment. That’s where the name came from – ‘Ramblin’ Closet. Then life happened, we started having grand babies and we realized we couldn’t go out of town like we wanted to. In 2015, we attended Fall der All and saw this building was for lease. We said, ‘How bout we just lease the building and have a brick and mortar location?’ A month later we did just that! Our daughter passed away shortly after we began leasing the building, so officially we opened our doors in 2016. We still have the trailer, and in fact, Tom took it to New Orleans after a hurricane several years ago.”
We saw all of the clothing The Ramblin’ Closet had hanging up, but we also noticed other items – books, a few small appliances and some home décor. We asked all of them what kind of donations they accepted and Linda and Kathy helped us understand.
“We take in clothing, but we also accept small household appliances and wares. We have lots of people call in looking for beds or washer and dryers and refrigerators, but we just don’t have the space for those larger items. Instead, we keep a list of people that say they need larger items or furniture and we’ll connect them to people that want to donate those items. With our clothing, we accept all items. We’re super proud that we repurpose or recycle just about everything – bags, hangers, clothing, etc. And if the clothing is in too bad of shape to be worn or used, we send it to a recycling company where they utilize the items in many different ways that aren’t available to us as a small business.”
We had to ask, “What’s the catch? Everything here is REALLY free? There’s no charge at all?” And all of the ladies said, “Absolutely! We’re a 501c3, a non-profit, so monetary donations from customers are appreciated but not expected. It’s not unusual for folks to drop off a donation and then find something they like or need, so essentially they’ll trade out clothing.”
We could see all the items in the store and in the back! There was clothing neatly stacked almost to the ceiling in the storage area and we knew Linda kept busy with her grandchildren, so we asked how she kept the place running.
Linda said, “I’m here when I can be, but I depend on our part-time employees and volunteers. We currently have 3 part time employees and lots of volunteers. Kathy is here almost everyday, either running the store or cleaning, going through donations and organizing. Her daughter, Kati also helps out. We had another employee for several years, Brodie Wilson. He was up here basically all by himself in the beginning. Celia has been wonderful. When we would have customers that only spoke Spanish, we’d do our best to communicate or just try and wing it. But since she’s been volunteering, language is no longer an issue. She helps translate and she helps with the upkeep of the store. Everybody does everything.”
Kathy told us, “We’ve had lots of volunteers over the years. We have a little 82-year-old lady that comes in. She just needed a reason to get out of the house. We got her a chair, and a little place to sit and do things. We love her! There’s more to it than we could even explain. I get lots of hugs that are worth more to me than a paycheck. I fou