Opening day at the new thrift store established by the CASA Women's Shelter was deemed a "huge success" by Karen Palmer, executive director of the shelter.

Opening day at the new thrift store established by the CASA Women’s Shelter was deemed a “huge success” by Karen Palmer, executive director of the shelter.

“We’re very pleased with the turnout and we stayed busy all day, right up until closing time,” Palmer said.

Called The Purple Purse, the store — at 1514 S. State St. — opened its doors Tuesday and will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

“We were looking for other ways to raise money and Karen did a lot of research into what other cities did,” said Joey Gieringer, vice president of the Committee Against Spouse Abuse Board. “We debated about it for five or six months and decided three or four months ago to do it and here we are.”

Regarding the name, Palmer said purple is the color associated with domestic violence awareness so they wanted to incorporate that into the name and “a purse is something that appeals to women who are our clients.”

She said that since the new shelter building on State Street was opened, they have seen an increase in the number of victims they have dealt with, as well as increases in support groups and the need for more outreach programs.

Gieringer said he sees the opening of the store as “a big positive step” for the shelter and the community, adding that the extra income will help to make up for several grants that were lost recently.

“We’re trying to be proactive and take care of the future,” he said.

In addition to selling “gently used items,” the store will also have information available about domestic violence and available services in the area.

“We have had great community support,” Palmer said. “People are all the time asking us what they can do to help and we’re looking for volunteers to help out at the store.”

She said that there were people who signed up to volunteer during the opening day Tuesday but more are needed, “particularly if we stay busy like we did Tuesday.”

In addition to the store, CASA benefits from a half-marathon in December, and Gieringer, who is race director, said he has already started planning for this year’s event.

Last year, more than 100 runners from several states ran the 13.1 mile race, which started and ended at Golden Lion Stadium on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Gieringer said he is hoping for 300 this year.

To volunteer or get more information about CASA, call 535-2955.