As the Maine economy slowly rebounds, the Freeport Community Thrift Store continues to expand to meet the demand of bargain shoppers and families in need.
A new location, the Estate Sale Annex, recently opened on West Street and features furniture and other household goods, said Lynn Henning, Freeport Thrift Store general manager.
“There has been a huge demand in the community for affordable furniture,” Henning said. “I asked for donations and received a big response. We’ve simply outgrown the location at the Freeport Community Services building.”
Henning said the need for both clothes and household goods is the highest she has experienced in her six years as general manager. Donations of furniture have nearly tripled in recent years, said Henning.
“The reasons are myriad. People who move into assisted living homes are big donors. Also, when people pass we are sometimes given whole estates,” she said. “It started with a trickle, but now we have a surplus of great and useful items. It just made sense to find a permanent location.”
If items from an entire estate are donated, special care is given to antiques, which are sent away for appraisal and then sold for their highest value. Henning said just about everything has passed through the thrift store, including a set of rare books on George Washington written in the 1800s.
Antiquarian books aside, the new annex has everything from wooden writing desks to love seats. The average customer runs the spectrum, from retired teachers to young mothers trying to stretch a budget.
Profits from both thrift store locations help fund Freeport Community Services, a community-run, community-based organization that coordinates programs and supplies a handful of direct services to the towns of Freeport and Pownal. The thrift store also is a resource for families and individuals in crisis who need basic goods after catastrophic events. If such an event arises, the thrift stores supply what they can-completely free of charge, Henning said.
According to a 2012 report by the USA Today, the popularity of “thrifting,” as it’s known by enthusiasts, is growing. In 2012, 20 percent of Americans said they shopped at thrift stores, compared to 14 percent in 2008. The trend is partly attributed to frugality created by high national unemployment rates and partly on a consumer movement that regard “thrifting” as a sustainable and eco-conscious shopping choice.
Henning said she relies on an army of 75 volunteers to keep product flowing and stocked in the two stores. Due to the generosity of the tri-town community, new products arrive daily and are often on the shelves soon after.
“It’s a great cause and a great way to save money,” Henning said. “I look forward to having the extra space, it benefits so many.”