August 12, 2010

Times are tough, even for the thrifty

Theresa Dionne drops some toys and games off at the Gerrish Center.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – A year ago, the donation processing room at the Marion Gerrish Thrift Store was filled to the ceiling with a mountain of green trash bags brimming with clothing and household items.
Times are tough, even in the world of thrift.
While the cupboard is not quite bare, the thrift store has made a public appeal for tax-deductible donations on its signboard. Director Dana Lemieux said if he knew exactly what was behind the drop in donations, he'd be rich.
“That's the big question, isn't it? I'm not sure what's going on. Maybe people are holding onto stuff longer, or maybe they're trying to make some money for themselves by holding yard sales rather than donating to us,” said Lemieux.
“There's really no way to gauge. But a lot of the higher priced items aren't getting into the store, and we depend on sales to keep our operations going, so it's a matter of supply and demand. If we don't have the goods, we aren't making sales.”
Currently 200 community groups share space at the center on a tight, rotating schedule, renting rooms for meetings, parties, politics and socializing. Gerrish center leases the building from the town for $1 and covers all the expenses of running the place with money made from the thrift store.
"We think this is a unique site -- we don't think there's anything else quite like it. We host groups from around the state, not just from Derry," said Lemieux. "But we don't make any money on renting this place out. It's the thrift store that keeps things going."
Which is why Lemieux is hoping that the summer lull will soon be over as residents get ready for fall by cleaning out closets and hauling clean and usable but unwanted goods to the store.
Theresa Dionne of Londonderry and daughter Alyssia are among the thrift store faithful. Yesterday Dionne was reloading toys into the backseat of her car. She'd hoped to donate them, but was surprised to see that the thrift store is no longer accepting toys.
“I guess it's a liability thing. I tried selling a lot of this at the Londonderry Flea Market. I sold a lot of my own clothes, but not the toys,” she said.
She is a regular donor to the store, which generally takes all but a few items. – no toys, no computers, and no National Geographic or Readers Digest magazines, said Lemieux.
“I don't know why those particular magazines don't go – we do take other magazines, just not those,” he said.
Currently fall and winter kids clothing is desperately needed, as well as usable small appliances, coats and other seasonal items.
For more information, contact The Marion Gerrish Center at 434-8866.

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