Moab Happenings Archive
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WabiSabi Thrift Store - On the Move Again

Well, what else would you expect with a name like that?
(Wabi Sabi: Japanese for the inherent beauty of imperfection, impermanence, and simplicity - or as author Taro Gold put it in his book on the subject, “Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.”)

WabiSabi Thrift Store, affectionately known to locals as simply “Wabi”, opened its doors in 2002 and quickly became a rising star among the most community minded of Moab’s nonprofits, networking directly with many of them and “providing a one-stop shop for the under-served population in general,” as general manager Leah Bear puts it.

Since its opening it has occupied four different locations, all of them basically within the town limits. According to Bear, that’s important. Not everyone has wheels, and an estimated one-third of Wabi’s customers bike, walk or wheel chair over to the store’s ample digs on 100 South, close to the pulsating heart of town and easily accessible to motorists and pedestrians alike.

For the past eight years Wabi has stationed there rent free. But in March the property (7400 square feet plus an adjacent office, parking lot, and grounds extensive enough to feature a new community garden) went on the market. A plum piece of Moab real estate boasting just shy of an acre, it didn’t take long before it was snapped up. Wabi, now “a property” listed for $1.35 million and was under contract by the end of March.

It’s April 10th and I am sitting with Leah Bear in a shaded outdoor area adjacent to the store. Tall, lithe, athletic, and full of energy, Bear tells me something I already knew - we are in the thick of a developing story.
The store has a two-year lease, which gives them until March 2025 to find a new home. But now that gears have begun to shift, Bear is eager to get the ball rolling.

So Wabi is searching for a viable location to re-invent the store - either land to build on or an existing building. The plan is to hire a professional fundraiser, someone who knows the ropes and is familiar with the local territory, meet with the fundraiser and sift through all available options.

Bear, a professional hiker and former manager of the local Gear Trader store, among other pursuits, started at WabiSabi last September, and is proud of the current staff. “Our team is so amazing,” she says. “Everyone stands behind the mission.”

“Saving Wabi is the bottom line. We do so much for this community.”
Keeping in touch with other nonprofits through social meet-ups and e-mail and providing generous vouchers to partners with immediate needs is a key element in how Wabi gives back, and the art of networking is obviously something Leah Bear cares about and does extremely well.

But to many Moabites, the store is best known for its communal Thanksgiving dinners. The pandemic cut into this time-honored practice; but last year, 300 meals were delivered and Bear hopes to revive the traditional sit-down feast this coming November.

April 20: At press time, in spite of her impatience to get focused and get going, the process is, for the time being, in limbo: “What is this really going to look like?” says Bear. “Everything is gray area.”

But that could change in a heartbeat, as the hiring of a fundraiser is reportedly imminent. Perhaps in the next day or so…

As they say on the evening news, watch this space…

WabiSabi Thrift Store, open daily 10-6/donations accepted 10-5 daily. For more information, please call 435-259-3313 or check out the website: And be sure to mention you read about Wabi Sabi in Moab Happenings.

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