The Kiwanis Center West opened on Staebler Rd. in June. Like the original downtown location, the hours for its weekly thrift sales are brief: Saturdays only, for a crazy, jam-packed three hours. Kiwanian Dan Dever says that in the near future he expects it will be open all day Saturday and possibly even a second day each week.

Larger than the club’s downtown shop and with ample parking, the “west wing” has become the new sales venue for heavy, large items, like indoor and outdoor furniture that the club previously sold out of a rented space in Airport Plaza. But it also has a good supply of the other merchandise stocked downtown–clothing, dishes, electronics, and all those weird, unclassifiable things that make Kiwanis cruising good Saturday entertainment even for people who don’t need to thrift shop.

The spectacular success of Kiwanis’s weekly sales–it gives back more than $250,000 annually to the community–has allowed the club to think more like a commercial business. Certainly the committee in charge of the expansion has the expertise. Dever is an attorney at DeLoof, Hopper, Dever, and Wright; his brother Nick, is an attorney and contractor; and Doug Ziesemer is a real-estate broker. Last year, after a ten-year search, they guided Kiwanis’s purchase of the former Sheridan Books property. “It’s a white elephant. We were able to get a good deal,” Dever says. Sheridan is building a more modern space out in Chelsea though still renting some of its old space until the move is complete.

“It was pretty dark and dingy,” Dever says. “We opened it, cleaned it up, put in a loading dock. We’re looking for other nonprofits as either tenants or to condominium-ize some of the building. It has a cafeteria, a meeting hall.” And there’s room to develop an out-lot in front, directly across from Menards. But they’re not trying to turn a buck on every square inch of the property. The half-acre wooded wetland out back will become a preserve for environmental education and study.

Dever points out that thrift stores are well represented in the Ann Arbor area–in fact, right down the road are the ShareHouse and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. “We’re not recovered from the recession yet. People are still buying frugally. They’re buying reused goods.” And, he continues, the fact that so many resale stores–both profit and nonprofit–are coming to Ann Arbor mirrors a trend seen in other retail sectors. “Whether you’re high-end or low-end, Ann Arbor is a site picked for its presence. Whether you’re Whole Foods or Goodwill,” Ann Arbor is a desirable location to plant a flag.

Despite the new competitors, he says, Kiwanis has maintained its edge because it offers the best pickup service. Other stores do pickups, he says, “but will not go inside, especially up stairs, for both liability and safety reasons.” Kiwanis will, and because of that, “our pickup quality and quantity has increased dramatically. We’ve been able to pick up entire households. We deal with property managers when students move out. We have an arrangement with U-M for turn-in and recycling.”

Kiwanis Center West, 102 N. Staebler, 665-0450. Thrift sale hours: Sat. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.