Each weekday, long before the doors to Noah’s Ark open at 9:30 a.m., a crowd gathers in the parking lot. Looking for bargains, the shoppers, arranged in an orderly line, often greet one another and Ark volunteers with hugs.
Noah’s Ark, an operation of St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, is popular with islanders, many of whom visit the shop nearly every day and know one another by name. One longtime customer, who has been shopping at the Ark for 12 years, is so fond of the popular thrift shop that she named her dog Noah.
Affectionately called “Arkettes” by Ark staff, frequent shoppers often arrive with snacks, birthday cakes and other baked goods. Acquainted with one another from time spent at the Ark, they come to socialize as well as shop, developing friendships that continue long after their regular shopping day.
During spring break, many children and grandchildren of islanders visit Sanibel, prompting quests for baby and child care items. Such merchandise abounds at the Ark: strollers, car seats, cribs, bassinets, playpens, beach toys, and, clothing and stuffed animals.
Many of these items, purchased at bargain prices, are used by visiting families and, when no longer needed, are returned to the Ark as donations. As one volunteer exclaimed, “Items in the Ark take a circular trip around Sanibel, never leaving – from donation to purchase and back to donated!”
Noah’s Ark has been in operation for over 50 years. All of the shop’s proceeds go directly to charity. Business hours until the beginning of May are 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays and the first Saturday of each month.
For more information on the Ark, call 1-239-472-2173.