Catholic Charities thrift store re-opening next week
CARIBOU, Maine — After nearly a year without the “Threads of Hope” thrift store, Caribou residents will see the shop open back up on April 13.
Volunteers have been working since last fall to get the store up and running again, and while the thrift shop will still be at the same location at 14 Old Van Buren Road, Catholic Charities will be sharing the space with Recovery Aroostook.
Officials from both Recovery Aroostook and Catholic Charities hope the decision to share will be mutually beneficial. t will allow Recovery Aroostook to expand its services and provide local residents with much-needed substance abuse recovery assistance. The rent money paid to Catholic Charities by Recovery Aroostook also will help that organization sustain the store, which funds its county-wide food bank.
Dixie Shaw, director of Hunger and Relief Services at Catholic Charities, said on Thursday that this decision will help offset operational costs and “hopefully allow us to be able to thrive.
“We closed the store because we weren’t able to make it work for a variety of reasons,” Shaw said. “The whole reason for having thrift stories is to raise money and operate the food bank. When your overhead is more than you’re making, then what can you do? If we don’t make enough to offset those costs, then why run the store?”
The re-opened store will feature a bulk buying format in which customers can come in and fill up a plastic bag with donated items for $5, a shopping cart for $25, and an “extreme” or overflowing cart load for $35.
There are two other Threads of Hope thrift stores in The County, one in Presque Isle and another in Monticello. Shaw said she recently implemented the bulk, or outlet, model in Monticello and that it has been “very successful.”
The outlet method, according to Shaw, cuts down on the amount of staff and time that would otherwise be required to sell and price each item individually.
“It’s a lot faster, and a lot less costly,” she said. “This lets us get things in and out, and turn it into cash so we can do the work we do feeding people in The County.”
The outlet method also will help Threads of Hope compete with all the discount stores in Caribou.
“There are like four dollar stores in Caribou,” she said. “It’s insane; how do you compete with that? You probably can’t if you just stay the same, but you might if you repurpose the store and come up with a new idea. People in Monticello sure do like it.”
While the primary goal of the store is to raise money for the food bank, Shaw said she wants to ensure shoppers are satisfied with the shop.
“We’re trying to make it affordable for folks so they have a good experience, a good deal, and someone gets a good meal out of it,” she said.
Volunteer Sandra Boxwell is among the volunteers helping to prepare the Caribou store for it’s April 13 grand opening. Boxwell, who is employed via Associates for Training and Development, or A4TD, said she “can’t wait to get started” once the store opens up again.
“We’ve been working since last fall to get the store open,” she said. “We did some painting, put up walls for separation [between Recovery Aroostook and Threads of Hope], have decorated the store, waxed the floors, and are getting everything all ready to go.”
With news of the store’s reopening spreading throughout Caribou, Boxwell said she has received calls from people saying that they have houses full of items they’d like to donate.
Anyone willing to donate can stop by the store between 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. The store will not be open for business during these hours, but volunteers will be on hand to take community donations.
Boxwell said larger donations, such as a couch, should be sent to the Presque Isle thrift store, but anything smaller would be a great fit at the Caribou store.
“There are a lot of people who can’t afford a whole lot,” Boxwell said, “but you can fill up a cart and supply someone with plenty of housing goods. What’s 25 bucks today? You can’t even fill up your tank with that.”
Both Shaw and Boxwell emphasized that the store’s primary goal is to raise money to feed people in The County, and that its survival will depend on the community’s support.
“If they support us, then we can support them,” Boxwell said. “If they can’t support us, then we can’t stay open.”