BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The bad news at Saint Vincent DePaul on Baker Street is that its thrift store, which has been around for more than half a century, is going out of business.

The good news is that the space it’s been occupying for six decades is going to be used for a much more effective purpose: a service center for the homeless and indigent.

The thrift store, at 300 Baker St., opened in 1964. Its purpose has been to raise funds to further Saint Vincent De Paul’s mission – feeding, clothing and ministering to needy families and individuals.

It’s been serving that population in east Bakersfield – 200 hot meals a day, six days a week – through sun and rain, stifling heat and bone chilling cold for close to 60 years. That mission will continue, says Oscar Zubrian, the Saint Vincent mission’s business coordinator.

“The homeless need has grown and we’re here to provide those services,” he said.

What’s new is that come Jan. 1, work will begin on the transformation of the thrift store into a service center – practical needs, life skills and more.

“For years the store’s main purpose was to provide financial support for the center,” said Darryl Ebel, chairman of the Saint Vincent’s board of directors, “but as things have changed, as times have changed, there’s unfortunately a lot more competition in the thrift store retail market and the store is not returning what it used to, so the board has decided to repurpose the store.”

Ebel says that while much still needs to be worked out, the new service center might offer bicycle repair, veterinary care, haircuts, personal hygiene services and employment help.

”We’re hopeful to able to provide a computer resource center for them, where they can apply for jobs,” said  Zubrian. “Or maybe apply for some sort of unemployment benefits, health care resources as well, like basic medical needs. “

Thrift store or no thrift store, community donations are still welcome – they’ll just go directly to the needs of Saint Vincent’s “guests,” as they call them, and the service center.

“They’re really excited when we explain to them what we’re going to be doing, what we’re hoping to be doing, with the new thrift store,” said Zubrian.

Interested in learning more or making a donation? Call 661-323-2941 or click here to visit the website.

Interested in some thrift-store deals? Don’t dawdle. Everything has been discounted 75 percent.

The bargains are here until Dec. 31 and then Saint Vincent de Paul will start using its former thrift store for a much more effective and worthwhile purpose. Saint Vincent de Paul officials hope to see the new service center up and running by mid-2023.