NORWICH – The departure of the Salvation Army Thrift Store from downtown Norwich leaves not only another vacant storefront on South Broad Street, but also a growing number of customers with fewer choices for acquiring and disposing of used merchandise.
The two remaining outlets for city shoppers are the Pink Door Thrift Shop, operated by Chenango Memorial Hospital volunteers, and Roots and Wings, a division of Catholic Charities. Both expect increased business and neither is sure whether they have the physical space for donations nor the staffing to meet the community’s needs.
The number of new families served by Roots & Wings, where clothing and food is free to income-eligible customers, has nearly doubled from a year ago. Moreover, according to Program Director Melinda Mandeville, of the 832 families served in May, more than 30 had never before visited the outlet.
“There are going to be more people coming here who have always been eligible, but were too proud or for whatever reason didn’t want to come here,” she said. “They’ll have to come now.”
Mandeville said she also expects there will be working class individuals and families who won’t qualify for Roots & Wings. “The bunch of people in the middle ... Those are the people I don’t know what they are going to do. A lot of people relied on the Salvation Army,” she said.
At the Pink Door Thrift Shop, where the racks and shelves are normally filled to capacity, officials say they are evaluating the impact of the Salvation Army closing, but have no plans for expansion nor relocation.
“Certainly the closing of the Salvation Army could and may have a positive impact on our sales,” said Chenango Memorial Hospital Volunteer Services Director Julie Clark.