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Final decision has not been made on closing downtown thrift shop, official says

By David Barr, davidbarr@pressandjournal.com
Posted 4/7/17

The Middletown Interfaith Senior Service Thrift Shop is moving toward closing but a final decision has not been made, according to one of its key officials.

The president of the shop’s board of …

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Final decision has not been made on closing downtown thrift shop, official says

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The Middletown Interfaith Senior Service Thrift Shop is moving toward closing but a final decision has not been made, according to one of its key officials.

The president of the shop’s board of directors, Larry Robbins, told the Press & Journal on Friday that they “haven’t made a board decision” to close, but they have started turning in that direction. They would have a better idea of where things stand at the end of the fiscal year in June.

Donations are not being accepted at the store, 17 S. Union St., but donations are being accepted for the Salvation Army in bins behind the location. Those Salvation Army donations will be dispersed to six area stores — two in Harrisburg, and one each in Lancaster, York, Camp Hill and Lebanon. (See page A5).

The idea for the store came about in 1974, but the shop didn’t come into existence until 1988 and it has been at its current location since 1991. Robbins said even at its peak the store did not bring in a great deal of money. The store doesn’t donate money to churches; it provides them with materials on an as-needed basis.

The store’s nest egg is dwindling due to the cost of running the building and paying expenses, and the expenses are outnumbering the proceeds. The board owns the store. Expenses include utilities and insurance, and Robbins said insurance costs are skyrocketing.

Robbins ruled out the possibility of leaving the current location to another location, because they would still have the same issues at the new location.

“It still wouldn’t be beneficial,” Robbins said.

Robbins said despite making some changes that they hoped would improve business, such as closing on Wednesdays, they just haven’t worked out like they wanted them to.

He added that this wasn’t an overnight decision and the board has been taking a hard look at their options for months.

Despite that, they are still in operation and have lots of items for sale.

“We’re selling out what we have,” Robbins said.

The store is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday except for Wednesday, when it is closed. It is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, and it is closed Sunday.

Some people were able to find a few items on the morning of Tuesday, April 11, that suited their needs. Carol and Jean Condran and Faith Davidson were partaking in what has become a tradition for the trio. Once a week for the past two to three years, they enjoy breakfast at Brownstone Cafe and stroll down to the thrift shop and browse.

Carol Condran said they always seem to find something while shopping and they enjoy shopping at the thrift store because the proceeds go to local churches, while Davidson added there are nice people in the shop.

“We hope that it stays open,” Carol Condran said. “It’s a good contribution to Middletown.”

At Tuesday’s borough council meeting, Councilor Anne Einhorn requested that council consider donating $20,000 to help stabilize and keep the shop open.

The store provides jobs, helps people who are less fortunate, and is a “social place” where people gather, Einhorn said.

She suggested the money come from the $20,000 that council had placed in the 2017 budget to upgrade council chambers, a move that Einhorn has criticized as unnecessary. Council did not take any action on her request during the meeting.

“It’s another piece of Middletown that needs preserved, instead of becoming an empty storefront,” Einhorn said.