Community Furniture Store Opens on Main Street

Photo: Offering community members a new place to acquire gently used furniture and appliances is the Calais Community Thrift Store Annex, located right next to State Cinemas. All proceeds from the store, which is run completely by volunteers, go back into the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry and its associated programs. (Photo by Lura Jackson).

By Lura Jackson

Furnishing a home or replacing necessary appliances can be a daunting and costly task. In a community filled with residents that are routinely struggling to make ends meet, many have no choice but to make do or go without. With the opening of the Community Thrift Store Annex next to the State Cinemas movie theater, residents looking for a good deal on a decent item can find their needs met thanks to the generosity of others in the area who would prefer to donate gently used items rather than to throw them away.

“I’m glad because the items aren’t going in the dump,” said one customer who was at the annex on opening day. “They’re being sold for a good cause.”

At present, the store offers dishes, mattresses, box springs, a flat screen TV, tables, chairs, odds and ends, clocks, microwaves, oven ranges, a dishwashing machine, and a refrigerator, all of which are in working condition. The large interior space – donated previously by Sidney Unobskey – hosts ample room for expansion, though volunteer Robert Day expresses that it won’t be long before the room is filled from wall to wall with donations.

“You name it, it’s here… You can find anything and everything,” said Day. In addition to furniture and appliances, the store boasts an eclectic selection of odds and ends, along with the entire stock of donated books that had been kept at the thrift store a few doors up the street. Brand new hooded sweat shirts with pop culture themes are available for $1 and tee-shirts are just $0.50. Among the first donations to come in was an original Schwinn bicycle, though it was in need of some repairs.

All of the proceeds collected at both stores go back into the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry and its associated community programs. The pantry itself serves as many as 800 families a month while the Backpack for Kids program ensures that children have access to some food after leaving school for the weekend. The workers in the shop, including Day himself, are all volunteers.  

“I enjoy being here,” said Day. “Being disabled, I was just sitting at home. I like it because it gets me out of the house, and it’s for a good cause.” Day appreciates the fact that the thrift store is a popular place for local shoppers. “People love to come here.”

Preparing the space inside the store was not an easy task. “We’ve been going all out to clean the floors and replace the tile,” said Day. The electrical system in the store has been completely replaced with updating wiring, a task that was completed by volunteers.

Donations of furniture in good condition and functional appliances are being actively accepted at the store, and volunteers to help cover the store, repair items, and move stock are always welcomed. The hours of the annex are identical to the thrift store: Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.