CLAXTON, Tenn. (WATE) — The future of the Frugality Thrift Boutique is up in the air after the owners lost a family member in an ATV crash.

Dusty Kuhn opened the thrift store at 608 Edgemoor Road with the help of her husband Jason, family and friends a little more than a year ago.

Her friend of 12 years, Jennifer Lowe, was there every step of the way.

“Dusty has some crazy ideas sometimes. So, Dusty decided in the middle of a pandemic — she had a bunch of stuff to get rid of and a bunch of stuff from yard sales — she said, ‘I want to open a thrift store,'” Lowe said.

Lowe said after Kuhn realized what she wanted to do, it didn’t take long before the dream became a reality.

“It was just four walls and nothing here and we came in and we made it something she just dream about,” Lowe said.

Photo of Jason Kuhn helping get Frugality Thrift Boutique ready to open. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lowe.

Lowe said it was a family and friend effort to put the store together. She said Kuhn’s husband built most of the shelving and displays, while the kids helped paint.

She said Jason Kuhn was a master of all trades: woodwork, welding and overall just able to turn something old into something new and chic.

“He was able to build, like the cash register area. We have a wonderful display on the wall made out of old coffee tables, he built the changing rooms in the back. We did reclaimed wood on the walls,” Lowe said.

Kuhn loved the finished product and loved being able to help the community during such a hard time.

“This wasn’t her first job. This wasn’t about making money. It was just something that she really, really enjoyed doing and wanted to do and really fell in love with the community,” Lowe said.

Lowe said talking with the customers was part of the joy Khun, and herself when she filled in, had while working at the store.

But, with Jason Khun’s touch everywhere in the store, it was hard for the family to walk inside anymore.

“Just like his son came in and said the other day, he said, ‘Oh wow. I always thought this was mom’s store, but daddy built her everything she wanted,'” Lowe said.

It was hard for them because Jason Kuhn died about a month ago at only 44 years old.

Photo of the Kuhn Family in front of Frugality Thrift Boutique. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lowe.

“Jason Khun was killed in a tragic ATV accident and since then it’s been just, Dusty has not been able to physically or emotionally bring herself into the store. Cause everywhere you look, it’s Jason,” Lowe said.

Not being able to step foot inside is one reason why the store might close.

The other is because Kuhn now has to support her children alone financially.

Lowe said Kuhn prided herself on offering some of the cheapest prices around, and anyone working in the store would essentially volunteer their time. So whatever profit the store did make wouldn’t be able to pay the family’s bills.

“(Jason Kuhn) was a self-employed contractor. So, you know, without that, this store wasn’t about making a ton of money. You know, we were able to pay the store bills or do what we need to do, but you know, it’s not going to support her and her children,” Lowe said.

She said she and Kuhn don’t want to see the store close. They know her husband wouldn’t have wanted that for the community, and they don’t want that for the community.

Their goal would be to sell the store as is to someone else, in hopes that person wouldn’t make too many changes.

But, the deadline for a sale like that is Oct. 31. If no one buys it by then, Frugality Thrift Boutique will close.

“I understand her heart. She just can’t be here right now and you know, we just can’t keep accruing bills for her to wait it out. So, it’s just a really tough time,” Lowe said.

Lowe understands because it’s hard for her to be in the store as well. She loved Jason Kuhn like a brother.

She said he was the nicest person with the most outgoing personality, and he would help anyone do anything.

“He was always the first person to show up to help you fix your car. You know, he recently just redid our kitchen. I mean, he could do it all. I mean so many things that, he’s just there to help,” Lowe said.

Now, she and the Kuhn family is asking for some help. They need help finding someone to take over the store.

The Kuhn family also needs help paying for funeral expenses, and to just get by while they go through this difficult time.

The family set up a GoFundMe. If you would like to help them, click here.

Here is a personal note from Dusty Kuhn to the Claxton community:

My husband, Jason, and I have so much love for the community of Claxton. When the pandemic hit, it became my dream to open a thrift store to support and serve the community. Some would say it was a crazy dream to have in the middle of such a difficult time, but not Jason, he supported me and helped me make my dream a reality. Frugality Thrift Boutique was built with the love of our friends and family. Jason did all the building and when the store was finished, he said “I didn’t build you a store, I built you a ‘Master Walk-in Closet’.” That he did!

Unfortunately, the dream of managing the store together was shattered by Jason’s tragic and untimely death in September. I so desperately want to keep the store open, for the community, but at this point, I don’t feel I am physically or emotionally able to continue. After 20-years of marriage and building this store together, I don’t feel I can do it without him. In addition, my life has completely changed, and my focus needs to be on my children. This has been so difficult for them, and they need me more than ever.

During this difficult time, Frugality has been able to continue to open because of friends, volunteers and donations. My hope and prayer was to find a buyer to keep our dream alive, but things have not worked the way I had hoped. We are opening the opportunity to anyone or any charity that may be interested in buying the store. If we are unable to find someone, it breaks my heart to say that the last day of operation will be October 31, 2021. I would like to give a big thank you to the community for continuing to shop, volunteer and donate to our family. I can never truly express my gratitude for your generosity. I cherish the friendships we have made. It has been an honor serving this wonderful community.

~ Dusty Kuhn, owner of Frugality Thrift Boutique