Neat Thrift Store navigates quarantine conditions to keep business running

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Kristen Erikson and Niel De La Cruz, owners of Neat Thrift Store, have created a unique shopping experience within the city of Lake Elsinore which opened Feb. 28, 2015.

Neat is Cruz’s first business venture; however, Erikson has owned several businesses within Lake Elsinore, including a small restaurant on Main Street called Flower Fusion where they had live music.

The same community ambience has been a staple at Neat where they’ve held several movie nights and live music events, she said; Neat is popular with young people in the community.

“We get a lot of the kids who like to just come hang out.” Erikson said about students from Lakeside High School, which neighbors the shop.

“There are kids we’ve become close to who come back and visit us. It’s been cool.” Cruz said.

The eclectic shop offers secondhand items, majority of which are attained by community donations. Art made by Cruz and other local artists can be found throughout the store for sale along with one of a kind clothes, books and furniture.

Erikson said donations to the shop increased even though Neat’s doors were closed, due to the coronavirus pandemic,

“The donations were coming like crazy. Even more so because people were home and cleaning out.” she said.

Erikson and Cruz adjusted to the influx of merchandise and a new way of running their shop, conducting all business online at times to make ends meet.

“I was heavily listing things on Offer Up and (Facebook) marketplace, just to kind of limp along,” Erikson said.

Eventually, the shop reopened its doors.

“Once the small businesses were able to reopen, it was kind of crazy. It was just like a flood (of people),” Erikson said.

The pair are optimistic for what the future holds for Neat and are planning sales and community events for the future. They have an ongoing silent auction open to anyone who visits the shop.

Neat Thrift Store is located at 32391 Riverside Drive in Lake Elsinore and can be found online on Facebook and Instagram, @neatthriftstore.

Jeremiah Tatola can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.