Chad Leinback used to travel in his home state of Texas with his family, and he’d look at buildings as they’d drive by and imagine what business he’d put in them.
Since 2012 – when he bought New Beginnings Thrift Store at age 21 – his business life has been all about selling re-used items.
“I never thought I’d do anything like this. I fell into this position,” he said.
He turned the Richland shop into a viable business and now plans to open a second New Beginnings store in the former Basin Department Store at 111 W. First Ave. in downtown Kennewick.
The new store is expected to open in August.
“The building owners who were originally here in 2007 (in Richland) – David Croskrey and his son Andrew – they saw an opportunity,” Leinback said. “They purchased the building for us to move in there. Obviously we’ll pay rent, but the timing was right. We know Croskrey is going to work with us.”
It’s the end of an era for Basin Department Store, which had been in business for over 70 years.
Stuart Logg told the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business in June 2022 that he wanted to sell his family store, hoping for someone to buy it for $1.95 million. That included the building, parking lot and business, as well as the inventory.
His hope was to get someone to continue on with the business.
But no buyer could be found to do that.
Leinback said the opportunity to do something with it was too good to pass up.
The 70-year-old building gives New Beginnings a lot more floor space to sell merchandise. The Richland store at 1016 Lee Blvd. has 9,000 square feet. The Kennewick store features more than 12,500 square feet.
“We love the history of that old building,” Leinback said. “We can undoubtedly fill it. We have back-stock set aside. The question is: Can we do it in eight weeks, when we plan to open?”
He believes so. Leinback’s success has been because of the shop’s faithful customers.
He has people who come in and buy from him every day. Those same people also donate items.
“We’ll certainly have the donations,” he said.
And Leinback is certain he’s getting a good building.
“I do some real estate,” he said. “I’ve purchased this (Richland) building, and the other building (the Richland store is in two separate halves with different entrances). (The Loggs) did all of the right things. They put on a new roof, a couple new HVAC units. It’s been very well maintained.”
Leinback said that it’s always been his intention to expand in the Tri-Cities.
“But we really have no intention of going outside the Tri-Cities,” he said.
Leinback started at New Beginnings in 2011 and took over as the owner in 2012.
“I was working the front counter, just out of college, and had just moved from Texas,” he said. “I started out working one day a week and would end up working six days a week. The store originally opened in 2007.”
He found he enjoyed the business.
“I think you’re taking something that certain people want to donate to support charities and others,” he said. “And I get excited when you can take something that people don’t want anymore, and you make it useful. I get a kick out of creating a display of something, and it’s gone in 20 seconds.”
Charity is a key piece of his business plan.
His Richland store supports two local charities – You Medical, a pro-life agency offering women free pregnancy testing and support; and Domestic Violence Services of Benton and Franklin Counties.
To date, New Beginnings has donated $400,000 to the two charities.
Half of that is cash to You Medical; and the other half is in donated goods to Domestic Violence Services, he said.
“Sometimes these women have to leave a situation in a hurry with just the clothes on their backs,” said Leinback, referring to domestic violence survivors. “We give them vouchers to get them clothes, cooking ware, you name it.”
Leinback said that New Beginnings will support two different charities at the Kennewick store: Mirror Ministries, which battles human and sex trafficking; and a yet-to-be-named charity helping first responders.
Charity is just one reason Leinback believes in the thrift store model of business.
“I see three things that I believe why people will support us,” he said. “First, because of the organizations we support. Second, we’re a pretty tight-knit group of employees. We’re a family. And we’re providing jobs for people. And third, we’re able to provide goods that people can’t normally afford.”
The shop’s customers come from all over the Tri-Cities, as well as outside the region.
“We have people coming in from Mattawa, Hermiston all of the time,” he said. “Some people purchase our stuff and re-sell it in Hermiston.”
Leinback also said his business helps the environment.
“Obviously there is trash donated,” he said. “Even the clothing we can’t sell, we have a wholesaler who buys it to recycle. Over 600,000 pounds of textiles have been saved from the trash.”
But to him, one of the best parts is adding more employees. He currently has 15 people on staff at the Richland store.
“This time next year, I hope to have 15 people at the other location,” Leinback said.
That’s what gets him excited.
“I feel that part has changed over the years. I just loved building something that was mine,” he said. “Now that’s changed from day to day to more of management of people. I have some really good employees. I’ve been lucky about getting some good people. I feel blessed.”
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