A local family that has overcome substance abuse and financial struggles wants its new business to make a difference in the community.
During a recent interview at FoFi Thrift & More, in Washougal, Deborah Connors referred to the years of 2009 to 2012 when she said the “economy imploded.”
Issues she faced with her husband, Dan, included a son’s substance abuse issues and a daughter undergoing emergency appendectomy surgery.
Deborah credits the Teen Challenge program for helping with the son’s issues.
The daughter’s surgery resulted in hospital bills, and the couple struggled to make ends meet.
“It was a really tough time,” Deborah said.
St. Matthew Lutheran Church, in Washougal, assisted by providing food.
Dan started picking things up that were given to them from friends, as well as people who responded to online ads.
The Connors then resold the items to improve their economic situation.
“We had a new empathy of what people go through,” Deborah said. “Adversity touches a lot of people.”
“It was a dream for him to have this store,” she added, mentioning that Dan enjoys finding good deals on eBay and Craigslist.
Other sources include estate and garage sales, flea markets and swap meets outside the local area.
“I like the thrill of the hunt,” Dan said.
FoFi has an assortment of clothing on the main floor, and sports memorabilia and pop culture items are on the second floor.
Apparel includes jeans, ties, blouses, purses and shoes. Other merchandise includes books, record albums and movies on videotapes and DVDs.
The memorabilia includes sports cards, jerseys, jackets, caps and posters.
Some of the items are autographed by professional athletes — past and present.
“It’s not a typical thrift store,” Dan said. “I’m selective about the items.”
The pop culture room features Holiday Barbie, Batman, the Beatles and Star Wars collectibles.
Their advertising business, Connors Creative Group, used to be located in the same building that is now occupied by FoFi.
Other renters occupied the structure until recently when it became available again.
“Dan has such a passion for this — how to barter, exchange, trade up and sell,” Deborah said.
The store’s name is from the family’s philosophy to live each day with “fear out and faith in.”
The business is a family undertaking, according to Dan.
He and Deborah have five grown children and seven grandchildren. Later this month, the couple will celebrate their 31st anniversary.
Each month, five percent of all sales is donated to a local beneficiary. FoFi opened in mid-May, and a donation was made to the St. Matthew Lutheran Church Summer Youth Camp Fund.
Five percent of sales in June will provide food and clothing for homeless students who attend Washougal High School.
Dan’s background includes 25 years of marketing experience. Connors Creative Group, an online company, provides logo designs and scripts for radio and television commercials. Clients are in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Deborah has also worked in marketing, and she is a certified birth doula and childbirth/family life educator. She is a volunteer with UNITE! Washougal Community Coalition.
The organization promotes awareness of substance abuse through parenting classes, presentations to students and other activities.
“We’re all in this together,” Deborah said.
The Connors moved from Southern California to Washougal in 2002.
FoFi Thrift & More, 3020 Evergreen Way, is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 844-6260 or visit www.facebook.com/fofithrift.