BELLOWS FALLS — After more than a half-century of operation, Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) has announced that it is closing its Good Buy thrift stores in Bellows Falls and Springfield.
The recent decision by the anti-poverty nonprofit's board of directors takes effect Dec. 16.
The stores will remain open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., until then but will no longer accept any donations for the stores as they sell the remaining inventory at a 20% discount.
SEVCA says it is actively working to develop new partnerships with thrift stores throughout Windham and Windsor counties to continue its voucher program, which lets community members in need access free clothing, furniture, and housewares in their neighborhoods.
Agency officials did not respond to daily telephone calls from The Commons over the past two weeks to clarify what these new partnerships might look like.
According to the nonprofit's public financial filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the thrift store brought in $202,782 in 2021, compared to $263,560 the previous year and $188,508 in 2019.
In the Rockingham area over the last several years, other major thrift-store-type resources have disappeared.
The Oh Zone, a popular source of inexpensive used furniture, appliances, books, housewares, and clothing in Bellows Falls, closed its doors several years ago.
More recently, the Rockingham Recycling Center in Westminster closed its popular free section when the COVID-19 epidemic struck. People brought furniture, household items, tools, books, and more, with some limited exceptions, that other recycling patrons could take.
The exchange remains closed, despite petitions calling for the town to reopen it.
SEVCA said in a news release that the decision to close its Bellows Falls and Springfield thrift shops was not an easy one, but that the board members "believe it is necessary for SEVCA's long-term growth and effectiveness," SEVCA Interim Executive Director Kathleen Devlin wrote. "This change will allow SEVCA to direct its resources where they are needed most."
SEVCA has operated a thrift store in the Windsor and Windham region since 1970; the Bellows Falls store opened in 1983.
The stores have served two purposes: first, to offer low-income community members access to free and low-cost furniture, housewares, and clothing, and second, as a source of revenue supporting SEVCA's economic development programs in the region and visibility for the nonprofit.
In 2022, SEVCA closed a third thrift store in White River Junction. At the time, the organization said it was closing that location to focus its resources on its Bellows Falls and Springfield stores.
"SEVCA is grateful to the staff, volunteers and thrift store donors for their many years of dedication, hard work, and commitment to providing a welcoming space to our community," Devlin's statement continued. "We truly appreciate the contributions made to support the success of the stores over the years."
This News item by Robert F. Smith was written for The Commons.