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December 5, 2023

Caroline’s Nonprofit finds new home

APTOS — Caroline’s Nonprofit Thrift Shop has moved. Though the move, across Trout Gulch Road into an adjacent business center was supposed to be temporary, it ended up being a perfect fit that was hard to turn down.

Christy Licker, director and founder of Caroline’s, said she was planning on a major remodel of the nonprofit that opened in 2011. While the original shop was vacated and prepared for construction work, the second half of Caroline’s, next door at 408 Trout Gulch Rd., remained open. Around five weeks ago Licker said they moved the bulk of their inventory into 8047 Soquel Drive situated in the Trout Gulch Crossing center, a stone’s throw away, as a temporary site.

“Once we got in here, set up shop and were able to put everything out on the floor we started thinking that this space, of over 3,000 square feet, really fit our needs,” Licker said. “Since it was for lease, we worked it out and now we’re here to stay. This is huge.”

Licker said the sale of the old Caroline’s, which operates with the aid of around 80 volunteers, will now generate a considerable financial windfall to boost the nonprofit into a whole new realm, and further its cause of helping those in need.

The original plan was to demolish the first building and build a new retail space of around 1,200 square feet with 700 square feet of storage space.

“While we were trying to obtain permits some really excellent people stepped up to help us in getting in to the nearby former Printsmith space,” Licker said. “Now, foot traffic business has picked up. It’s an amazing space for a business like ours.” 

Caroline’s typically features a colorful mélange of clothes, household goods, books and art, in addition to crafts such as items knitted by volunteers with the proceeds going to charity. The store was founded in memory of Licker’s daughter, Caroline, who died at 16 after receiving help from four nonprofit agencies dedicated to supporting children and their families.

Meanwhile, on Trout Gulch Road, on the edge of the new Aptos Village Project, where a New Leaf Community Market opened in May, is the ongoing construction of a new Betty Burgers. Situated in the former Vapor Laundromat, just yards off of Soquel Drive, the Santa Cruz-based family restaurant is slated to open in October or November, said Laurie Negro, who owns three other locations of Betty Burgers in Santa Cruz County.

“We’ve been looking for an Aptos location for the past 10 years. We think this place is perfect,” she said in May.

Negro said the new location will offer “exactly the same menu” as her other stores and will offer wine and eight beers on tap.

Since their beginning, Caroline’s has raised $1,290,000 for 26 local organizations, including Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart, CASA, Teen Kitchen, Shared Adventures, Second Harvest Food Bank/Food For Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters SC and Easter Seals Central.

“We are officially moved in and the signs are being built right now,” Licker said. “We still have some little cosmetic changes and have to create a processing area. This is just what we needed. Now we can say ‘yes’ to people. We are going to be giving a lot of money.”


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