By CLOEY CALLAHAN
When the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh ReStore reopened in mid-June, they were ready to figure out how to navigate operating a retail thrift store during a pandemic. While they had to consider different ways of doing things, they were able to find their groove over time to lead to the most success for the ReStore.
Cliff Gaw, store manager, said that the donations have not stopped or fallen short in any manner. In fact, they have received so many donations at their docking area that they had to adjust from drop off whenever to a timed schedule, which began in September.
“We have been affected financially,” said Gaw. “But, donations have not ceased to come in … We would have a line of ten cars waiting to drop things off without a schedule.”
Another adjustment they had to make is closing the store for two hours every day they are open to sanitize everything in the store. Staff and volunteers also sanitize everything upon picking up or receiving new merchandise. Gaw estimated that the store is down $1,000 per day in income.
They are not the only thrift store, or really any store for that matter, that has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Salvation Army across the river in Wappingers Falls closed its doors while Goodwill has decided not to take furniture anymore.
“You’re losing donation sites,” said Gaw. “People are looking at us to fill that void and at times we can, and at times the store gets hazardously close to not being safe or navigatable because of too much merchandise.”
With a number of merchandise still coming in, they find themselves doing markdowns to get things off the floor.
When the store first reopened in June, they had three volunteers who came in to help the four full-time employees. Once they figured out the best system to rotate in volunteers, they were able to expand to an eight person volunteer team.
Recently, one of their volunteers, Manny, was selected as a community champion by Walden Saving Bank. ReStore’s Facebook post read, “Manny volunteers several times per week, and brings with him enthusiasm and cheer.” Gaw described Manny as a “stalwart.”
“I have never been prouder of people,” said Gaw about each of the volunteers. “I realized talking to the former manager these folks give themselves freely. They are full of love and dedication … God bless them.”
With the holiday season in full swing, Gaw also suggested that community members purchase from them.
“The closer you get to the holidays, [customer’s] money is being spent on Christmas gifts,” said Gaw.
“Although, we offer plenty of wonderful items that people can give, unfortunately not with original boxes, but we always say ‘give a gift of the past for your future present.’”
The Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh ReStore is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. The store helps raise funds to “build homes, communities and hope,” in the area. To contact the ReStore, call 845-565-1789. To schedule a donation drop off, use extension 142. Drop off hours are Wednesday to Saturday between 10 and 11:45 a.m.
“We’re constantly looking at the horizon on how to make it better and how to cope,” said Gaw.
If you are interested in contacting Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh’s office, call 845-568-6035.