Peak City Thrift in Apex aims to ‘keep it folksy’

CorrespondentNovember 4, 2013 

Jim Bennett stocks Peak City Thrift with hard-to-find items he buys at auctions.

CINDY SCHAEFER — CINDY SCHAEFER

— Peak City Thrift is not your typical second-hand store, and that’s just how owner Jim Bennett likes it.

The store’s for-profit status means it does not rely on donations to fill its shelves.

Instead, Bennett spends mornings bidding on abandoned storage lockers, much like what happens on the TV show “Storage Wars.”

A keen eye and a little luck have helped him stock vintage collectibles alongside more-typical merchandise.

“We have a little bit of everything,” he said. “We’re very eclectic.”

Indeed, dusty glass bottles that Bennett said date to the 1800s are displayed near a more modern dinette set. The shop is small at just 600 square feet, which fits Bennett’s vision. Instead of a commercial look, he said he wants to keep it “as yard-saley as we can.”

A back room that houses the overflow merchandise is not off-limits to customers.

“They can go in and dig around,” Bennett said. “We are not a boutique.”

Also setting Peak City apart are the prices: They are not set in stone.

“We welcome the haggle,” Bennett said. “That’s our niche. ... I’m a junker. I want to keep it folksy.”

Bennett said the decision not to apply for nonprofit status was deliberate. “We chose to go that route because we didn’t want to limit ourselves to just one charity. We want to spread the love.”

Peak City Thrift teamed with neighboring business Molly Maids recently to raise money for InterAct, an agency that serves victims of domestic violence.

In January, Bennett hopes to begin highlighting a different local charity each quarter. He plans to solicit nominations via Facebook and then decide on a recipient for a portion of the store’s profits.

“We feel like we can give to a lot of places by using the for-profit model,” he said. “As a business owner, I’ve got a duty to give back.”

Meanwhile, Bennett also wants to help on a more individual basis. “We are priced where anyone can afford it, but if they can’t, they can talk to me and we will work it out.”

One corner of the store is filled with children’s clothes and toys. A pretzel box from the 1940s sits on a nearby shelf. Bennett figures he has something for everybody.

“If you have somebody on your Christmas list who is hard to buy for, we might have just the thing,” he said.

The challenge for Peak City Thrift has been its location. It can be hard to find.

The tiny shop is tucked on the side of Apex Village Shopping Plaza, which has struggled to keep tenants.

Bennett has been working hard to make his presence known since he and his wife opened the store in July.

“We’re here, we’re new and we want the folks of Apex and Cary to come see what they’re missing,” he said.

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