Kennewick store launches training program for people on autism spectrum

Kennewick store launches training program for people on autism spectrum

KENNEWICK, Wash — A new thrift store hopes to give our community more than just somewhere to shop. It's also a training center for young adults on the autism spectrum.

Tri-Cities Autism Thrift Store opened Tuesday but on Thursday it gained another fan in Danielle Vizguerra,

"I was just driving around and the name caught my attention so I decided I was going to come in."

Vizguerra's son is autistic.

She said she was excited to stop in because while she's heard plenty about finding jobs for autistic people, she hadn't seen it firsthand,

"So when I read the sign I was like 'I have to go in there, I have to see what it's about, I have to look into it.' "

The store's Assistant Manager Rachael Eaton said Tri-Cities Autism Thrift Store exists because another Kennewick mom saw a need in our community.

"She has a daughter who has autism and she wanted her daughter to be able to have a place where she could go to work and feel comfortable."

Eaton said it was important for the founder to hire people who understood people with autism.

People with autism typically struggle with social interactions.

Vizguerra said she worries about what's in store for her son after school,

"My son's in school so the school district does a lot for him."

She said she's heard it's difficult for people with autism to find work.

And that's they're there, said store manager Jared Ackerman,

"We give them that chance to get the foot in the door so they can go to the job and say I have had job experience and this shows that I can do this, and this is my credentials for the time I've worked."

So far the store has two clients working a few days a week but they want to grow and take on new clients and employees.

Eaton said she feels like the store has had a fairly successful first two days. For a thrift store,

"I might just be optimistic but I think the place is just going to get really big and I'm really excited."

The store owner said the store is not-for-profit and all proceeds go toward local charities or back into their training program.

Ackerman said this is why he loves his job, because it feels nice to be giving back to something,

"This is the first time I've ever had something with a purpose and I've gotten more out of it than just a paycheck."

Tri-Cities Autism Thrift Store is located at 731 North Columbia Center Blvd., Suite 114, Kennewick, WA 99336.

They're also on Facebook.

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