by Zack Mink
The neon green storefront and addictive beats of classic 90s hits pull you in first. Taking a step inside, you can choose a colorful basket to fill with local art, food and toiletries from the mutual aid pantry, and affordably priced clothes. After spending ten dollars, you spin the prize wheel and win an extra 10% off your entire purchase. This is the experience you can expect at Arcata’s new curated thrift store, Krave.
Krave is located at 1073 H Street in downtown Arcata, open Wednesday-Sunday, providing clothing and nicknacks at accessible prices along with mutual aid support for those in need.
“The agreement we have made… is I’m going to charge fair prices for these things so that they can go to other members of our community,” said Kai Flores, the owner of Krave.
Flores designed Krave to specifically cater to queer people, plus-size people, students, and “underprivileged folk.” It’s a place Flores says they would have wanted when they were younger. Now, they get to live out their dream, providing the safe space they would have wanted as a kid, for others.
“My goals for Krave are to make it a safe space and for people to feel like they’ve found their community,” said Flores.
Along with providing a safe space for young queer people, Krave is a safe space for people in need. This is why Flores always has a stocked mutual aid pantry filled with food, blankets, hygiene products, drug test kits, and other essential goods. Flores prioritizes this because they want everyone to have a shopping experience even with no money to spend. Especially with the prominent unhoused population, this thoughtful addition is something that is not common but is very helpful for those in the area.
Another aspect of shopping that Flores has changed is the organization. In order to truly create a safe space where anyone can be comfortable, all of the clothing is organized by size or color. This avoids using gender labels and allows anyone to comfortably try on any piece of clothing, bringing a new level of inclusivity to shopping.
In addition to a gender-inclusive shopping experience, Krave is size-inclusive. The plus size section is as expansive as the straight size section giving everyone the same variety of second-hand clothing.
“Same size, same amount of cool stuff,” Flores said proudly.
As Krave continues to grow, Flores plans on expanding the community support that they provide. Flores hopes to become a vending space for occasional pop-ups highlighting local small businesses, and plans on hosting more events establishing a safe space for queer people.
As Flores reflects on their journey as a queer person and business owner in Humboldt County, they appreciate how far they have come and how much they can now help others grow.
“I love the fact that every day I see a bunch of queer kids come into my store, coming to life because they can just be themselves,” said Flores. “They’re respected, they’re loved… they’re celebrated.”