ANTIOCH -- Josie Monaghan has always had an eye on the downtown corner location on Second and G streets with the big windows.

So, when more room was needed to meet growing demands for the East County Veterans' venture into selling secondhand furniture, that recently vacated Rivertown location became a perfect fit.

"We took a leap of faith on it," said Monaghan, the group's founder. "It's a lot better than asking, 'Why are we driving ourselves insane trying to fit everything in (the smaller store)?'"

The East County Veterans group, which aims to make life easier for veterans struggling with the transition to civilian life, opened the furniture and housewares store this week.

The organization has made itself at home since setting up shop with a clothing thrift store on West Second in March 2012. It opened a drop-in recreation and resource center on L Street in April 2012 and now has expanded its furniture venture.

"This is where my roots are," Monaghan said. "I just can't even process it all. It's like, how does this happen? We've just had so much support from the community."

While setting up various tables with placesettings, bedroom sets and recliners, volunteer Mike Kimbrough of Brentwood said the store has already received quite a few donations and walk-in customers.

"A lot of people have been checking us out just because of word-of-mouth¿," said Kimbrough, who served in the Navy from 1999 to 2003 and is now between jobs.

He volunteers at the furniture store three days a week.

Zoila Castro and her husband Walter walked out of the store Thursday afternoon after browsing at the displays.

"They have some pretty good stuff. I may have to come back ... when I'm not with my husband," she said.

Lots of visitors to the store have been taking smartphone pictures of various items and sending them to others, Monaghan said.

All store workers are volunteers, though those that pick up furniture at estate sales or other off-site spots receive a stipend.

All money earned from the thrift stores goes toward the resource center, helping needy veterans with financial assistance for hardships and supplies for troops' care packages.

The resource center opened only a year ago, but Monaghan said it's already helped several hundred veterans. Its goal is to provide computers, job training assistance, benefits and school information, along with an outlet for those veterans who might otherwise keep to themselves to instead talk and help each other.

Several downtown shop owners said Thursday that having a retail store in the highly visible location is a good fit.

"It helps create what downtown is supposed to be: a retail-oriented area," said Rick Carraher, executive director of the El Campanil Theatre. "It fills out a very visible corner, instead of giving a false impression everything is vacant."

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.

More Information:
The East County Veterans secondhand furniture store is located on the corner of W. Second and G streets, at 522 W. Second St. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. It is closed on Sundays.
Donations can be dropped off on Thursdays.
For more information, call 925-206-4113 or visit www.eastcountyveterans.org.