Before Macklemore & Ryan Lewis made thrift-store shopping a mainstream thing once again with their song highlighting its benefits, it was already gaining speed in this area, thanks to the economy and the “regulars” who just can’t pass up a bargain. Samaritan Thrift Shop in the Williamsville Industrial Park off of Route 54 is celebrating five years in the business.
In those five years, they have grown from an 1,800-square-foot building to a 4,000-square-foot building and could easily expand more, though they have no plans to at the moment, according to manager Nancy Scheffey.
“The people are wonderful,” said devoted customer Lucia Zervakos. “There are dressing rooms. It is so clean, and the prices are wonderful. I come to drop off stuff at one door and come in the other to buy more!”
The ultimate in recycling and re-purposing, this thrift shop also allows people to know that their dollars are supporting all kinds of good causes.
Samaritan started as local mission of St. Matthew’s by the Sea United Methodist Church in Fenwick Island, and about five years ago then-pastor Rich Evans was assigned to church development to start Bayside Chapel in the same industrial park.
“They spent two years getting the property ready,” said Scheffey, “and there was an adjacent building in the same complex, and they thought a thrift shop would be a good idea.”
The money that they make after expenses helps them to support five food pantries in the area — the Selbyville Food Pantry out of Salem United Methodist Church in Selbyville, the Pyle Center in Roxana, Blessings House Ministries in Willards, Md., St. John’s Community Food Pantry in Laurel, Del., and Salvation Army in Salisbury, Md. Last year, Scheffey said, they donated $15,000 to the food pantries and were excited that they could help do many other missions with their excess.
What Samaritan Thrift Shop doesn’t or can’t use because of quality — for example, old towels or washcloths — gets donated to area animal shelters to make dog beds; and specialty items, such as hairpieces and wigs, get cleaned and re-styled for use by the Tunnell Cancer Center in Lewes.
And they do everything they can to keep things from getting thrown away, from the things they just don’t have the market for to things that can get better use elsewhere.
“Many people retire here, so we get a lot of business-professional attire, which we really don’t have an outlet for with our clientele,” explained Scheffey. “So we make a run to the Career Closet, a state agency that is strictly focused on the people who need clothes who are trying to enter the work force.”
They also make donations of clothes to two homeless shelters, one in Ocean City, Md., and one in Millsboro, and have started a relationship with Clothe Our Children, a new organization that concentrates on providing appropriate clothing to needy children, especially in the winter months, she explained.
“We try to do everything we can to keep it out of the landfill,” she added, saying that they also recycle glass and cardboard and have someone who comes to pick up any scrap metal they get. And with any Nike athletic shoes that are not quite fit to sell, they can send them back to the company so they can be recycled.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said of running things smoothly. “But we are the hands and feet of the Lord and, in serving those around us, we are doing good work.”
Of course, Scheffey, like many of the volunteers, is modest and said she doesn’t do it for the credit or the glory, rather for how it makes her feel to help those in need.
“I get so much more out of it than I put in.”
Samaritan Thrift Shop is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Summer hours are extended, so currently they are open on Fridays until 5 p.m. During the first week in July, they will be celebrating their fifth anniversary, so there will be cookies and lemonade on hand all week. For monthly specials and more information, visit them online at http://samaritanthriftshop.webstarts.com/contact.html.