New thrift store benefits foster children
RACINE — An area couple who clearly have big hearts for foster children have found another, unique way to help them: a new store called Fosters reStore.
David and Christine Fricke of Kenosha opened Fosters reStore Aug. 18 at 2000 Lathrop Ave. inside the former Lathrop Furniture building. It’s part thrift store, a seller of new furniture and, most notably, a place where foster children — and even past foster children — can shop for free each month.
The Frickes own Graphics Inc. in Kenosha and are foster parents themselves. They currently have one foster child, Christine said, but have had up to four at once. They also are the creators of their own nonprofit My Foster Kids Foundation (www.myfosterkids.org), and the Fosters reStores are the fundraising arm for the foundation.
David said he and his wife started the foundation about three years ago when they became foster parents: “Our first two placements came with nothing but the clothes on their back.”
So, they put out the word they were looking for clothing for the children and “clothing started pouring in,” David said. It wasn’t long before they had 50 totes of it.
They wanted other foster children to be able to benefit but “it was hard to find foster kids,” David said.
They took about 1,800 square feet of unused space in their Graphics Inc. shop and converted it to a thrift shop where foster children could acquire up to $30 each month in merchandise at no cost to them. Foster parents can register their foster children to shop for free by showing their foster care license and placement letter for each child on their first visit.
Racine’s new store works the same way, although it is much larger, with about 7,000 square feet of showroom space. The Frickes decided to retain the previous store’s new-furniture sales, including mattresses and beds.
More help for fosters
Foster children tend to fall behind in school, David said. They’ve often changed schools several times, and he opined that “(schools) will push anybody through to the next grade.”
In response, David said, the couple will use their foundation to fund educational programs for foster children — “tutoring, essentially” — and they’re working with Sylvan Learning to set that up.
The couple also is working with Jockey International’s Jockey Being Family, which supports adoptive families.
The Frickes will continue to depend on donations of clothing and accessories to keep their thrift stores supplied. They’re trying to keep their costs as low as possible; the staff is paid, but the Frickes take no salary. In addition to paid staff, they also use volunteers.
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” Fricke said.
Fosters reStore is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 262-333-8414.