When Pat Plocek considers the fact that Samaritan Thrift Shop gave the community $48,000 this year, he can only say, “That’s a lot of $1 and $2 pieces of clothing.”
Located in a simple Route 54 warehouse in Williamsville, the nonprofit shop is pleasant. Music is playing, clothes and jewelry are displayed, and Christmas decorations softly light the shop.
Just because they pay less, shoppers shouldn’t have less of a retail experience, said Plocek, who is serving as temporary manager.
“We’re here for the community. We’re not here to make money,” he said.
Samaritan Thrift Shop is ready in times of need. So, families suffering house fires can request a recommendation from their churches to shop Samaritan Thrift Shop for free.
But low-priced items are available for anyone on a tight budget.
“We get constant donations, luckily. It takes a lot of items to add up to that,” Plocek said. “Right now, we’ve got jeans for a dollar.”
The store would rather sell overstocked items than pack them up, so the shoppers benefit. Christmas items are already discounted at 75 percent off.
For $5, people might find a name-brand sweater that retails for $50.
“I think everybody’s appreciated the value of what we’ve got in here,” Plocek said.
People can make their house a home with tools, bicycles, furniture and kitchen goods from dishware to bread makers. There are shoes, baby items, housewares, books, movies and games.
Volunteers lightly refinish or repair furniture as needed. Plocek pointed to two glass-top tables that were just delivered 30 minutes earlier.
The thrift shop does not consign, but sometimes privately sells or auctions high-dollar goods. That means the donations truly get the best bang for the buck.
The donations are based on the community’s generosity.
After expenses, all Samaritan profits are directly donated. This year, several food banks got $7,500 each; the Pyle Center’s energy fuel assistance got $15,000; Neighbors Helping Neighbors got $3,000 to help families get back on their feet; and the reserve fund always holds money for major emergencies, such as when a food pantry is in trouble.
Samaritan Thrift Shop doesn’t waste anything that it can’t use. Old clothes and shoes are recycled; sweat clothes go to Shriner burn units; old towels to the SPCA; partial bottles of shampoo and bar-logo T-shirts to international students working at the beach.
“We don’t get anything for it, but at least it’s not going in the landfill,” he said.
The warehouse has grown since the mission began under St. Matthews By-the-Sea United Methodist Church about seven years ago. Samaritan Thrift Shop moved to its current location within the last four years and has expanded to fill the entire building.
There are two part-time paid positions. Everyone else volunteers in three-hour shifts. They don’t have to be affiliated with the church to volunteer.
“We are always looking for volunteers — especially this time of year,” when older volunteers fly south for the winter, said Plocek.
He thanked everyone involved, from the volunteers (“Without their help, we couldn’t do any of this”) to the people who bring donations (“Without the donations, we wouldn’t have anything to sell”).
“I think a lot of the thrift shops are hidden treasures,” said John Regan, marveling at the deals people find.
“Keep coming back,” Theo Brans said, noting that there’s always something new and different.
“We’d love for more people to come out and find the store,” Plocek said. “The more we sell, the more we can give back to the community.”
When they leave each day, the volunteers feel better for serving a good cause.
“And they have fun,” Plocek said.
“We’ve known each other a long time,” Regan said. “It’s a very nice group of people.”
Samaritan Thrift Shop is located in Wiliamsville Industrial Park on Route 54, between Selbyville and the Route 17 intersection. It is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Call (302) 436-5526 for more information.