Rally Around An Icon: Community helping Cheap Thrills founder

Rally Around An Icon: Community helping Cheap Thrills founder

Unless you’ve just arrived in Fayetteville for the first time, odds are you’ve been to Cheap Thrills. Nestled into an historic-looking building just south of the downtown square, the resale and consignment shop is where all the cool kids — and those who might be considered adults — go to find vintage T-shirts, denim jackets, 1960, ’70s and ’80s prom dresses, unique jewelry and all the best gently used shoes.

And if you’ve been to Cheap Thrills, every single time you’ve been welcomed in by the smiling countenance of its founder, Harriet Wells, who started the business in 1992. With a little help, she’s kept it afloat through all the changes in Fayetteville — and a pandemic — and now her friends are asking the community to rally around her. Wells has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“She was an avid thrifter/yard saler/collector, and friends kept telling her she should open a shop,” Greta Allendorf, who has owned the store since 2017, starts the story. “One night after work, she said, she went looking for storefronts and found the [original] one on Block Street and immediately knew it was the one.

“Harriet wanted a place where young people could get cool stuff and not have to pay mall prices,” Allendorf says simply. “I have shopped at Cheap Thrills since I was a tween and always thought Harriet was the coolest person in town.”

When “talk started in 2017 of Cheap Thrills closing forever,” Allendorf says she was one of many people who were “devastated, but I didn’t have the money to do anything.”

“On the night before the liquidation, a Fayetteville couple, Rebekah and Matt Champagne, called and offered to loan me the money to buy the store, and I accepted,” she explains. “Harriet and I quickly realized we were kindred spirits and because fast friends.

“We’ve been through some hard stuff in the short time we’ve known each other, and we’ve had lots of joy, traveling to new places and experiencing things we wouldn’t have on our own,” Allendorf says. “We’ve become pretty much like family.”

Allendorf says Wells’ health failed quickly, and the diagnosis came as a shock to everyone. “She’s still processing.” But her friends immediately knew they wanted to do everything they could to help, and a GoFundMe was created with a goal of $35,000 to pay off Wells’ home. In less than a week, half the total has been raised.

In addition, “Jessica Graham of Mae’s Emporium and Sunshine Broder from Cheap Thrills have been organizing an auction site on Instagram,” Allendorf says. “It started with amazing vintage pieces Jess has collected over the years, and now others are offering up donations. People can contact us at the store to donate items or reach out on Instagram.

“There’s not really words to describe how much I love her,” Allendorf says of Wells. “And I know she feels the same about me. She’s one of the best people I’ve ever known. She’s my person.”

FYI – Fundraising for Harriet Wells

Donors can find the GoFundMe for Wells at https://gofund.me/ca76c5d9.

The auction can be found on the Cheap Thrills’ Instagram page at instagram.com/cheapthrillsnwa.

The shop is at 120 S. East Ave. in Fayetteville. Call 442-7735.

Categories: Cover Story