MILLINOCKET, Maine — Jayne Jones wants to give her customers useful goods at good prices, and once she has done enough of that, she wants to dedicate some of her profits to community charities, she says.
The 45-year-old Millinocket woman opened Two Sisters and Friends Thrift Store on 96 Penobscot Ave. earlier this month and so far, she said, has had good business.
“We have some customers who come in every day,” Jones said Thursday. “They come in to have coffee and chat. We have a really nice atmosphere here and people seem to enjoy it.”
The full-service thrift store is among four that have opened in Millinocket over the last several years. I-Care Ministries and St. Martin of Tours Church have thrift stores on Spring Street and Maine Avenue, respectively, while Good Samaritan Thrift Store is on Penobscot Avenue.
The stores help residents cope with a struggling economy in the Katahdin region, which had an unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, of 16.7 percent for November, according to the Maine Department of Labor. That represents a drop from the 17.1 percent unemployment rate in October.
The Katahdin region economy has had an unemployment rate approximately 2½ times greater than the state average, which was 7 percent in November, since its paper mills began filing for bankruptcy and closing in the early 2000s, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Labor said Thursday.
The thrift stores, Jones said, are convenient for Katahdin region shoppers and help offset the lack of a retail clothing store or general store in the region. The nearest are a Label Shopper and a Walmart, both in Lincoln.
“There are a lot of elderly in this town who do not drive,” Jones said.
“And a lot of people can’t afford to drive all the way to Bangor,” said Jones’ daughter, 18-year-old Samantha.
Two Sisters’ inventory is provided through donations of items, which helps keep costs low, Jayne Jones said. She hopes to start donating a portion of her profits to town charities when the profit margin allows for it, she said.
Jones has worked in thrift stores for much of her adult life. She worked at St. Martin’s for about 12 years, and her mother ran Gloria’s Thrift Store in Patten for many years, Jones said.