Dexter thrift shop offers both bargain, hard-to-find merchandise

Posted Sept. 24, 2012, at 1:34 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 24, 2012, at 1:56 p.m.
Cheryl Pomerleau (left) and her daughter, Monique Johnston, are ready to assist their customers searching for a hard-to-find item or a bargain at their Family Attic Thrift Stop in Dexter. The mother-and-daughter team is also assisted by family members Tony Pomerleau and Conner Johnston in operating the thrift store.
Bill Pearson | Piscataquis Observer
Cheryl Pomerleau (left) and her daughter, Monique Johnston, are ready to assist their customers searching for a hard-to-find item or a bargain at their Family Attic Thrift Stop in Dexter. The mother-and-daughter team is also assisted by family members Tony Pomerleau and Conner Johnston in operating the thrift store.

DEXTER, Maine — It is rare when the Family Attic Thrift Shop has been unable to match a customer with a product that person is searching for.

The thrift shop has been in existence for the past four years and has provided local bargain hunters with a seemingly endless supply of used clothes, furniture, books, DVDs, videos, toys and crafts.

But one day, a customer walked into the 322 Dover Road shop and couldn’t find what she was looking for.

“A bean pot. That’s the only thing we’ve never had in here,” said Cheryl Pomerleau, who owns the Family Attic Thrift Shop along with her daughter, Monique Johnston. “For everything else, we’ve always been able to come up with what they needed.”

The Family Attic Thrift Shop came into existence following the closure of a church-operated one closed in 2008. Johnston, who often frequented local thrift shops and yard sales, discussed the possibility of opening a family-run thrift shop with her mother. The two began the business by searching out donated merchandise and purchasing other materials from yard sales and thrift shops.

“I am the one who searches for stuff at yard sales and thrift shops,” Johnston said. “I’ve always enjoyed going to yard sales and thrift shops, and I thought it would be a good idea to run our own shop. We’ve been very happy with how it has gone since it started.”

The Family Attic Thrift Shop also receives a great deal of donated merchandise at the end of the summer.

Typically those families who were unsuccessful in selling their yard sale items donate them to the shop.

They also receive many items from families who are either moving or just looking to dispose of materials taking up space in their homes.

“The biggest challenge is sorting through all the material and deciding what is good and usable and what’s not,” Johnston said. “Each year, we receive a lot of good stuff that people use to make their own Halloween costumes. It is really a great place to buy things inexpensively to make an authentic-looking costume instead of spending $25 on a new one.”

The shop is closed every Monday, but the owners spend the day going over the donated items in preparing them for sale. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. While the mother-daughter team typically works the majority of the hours, they also receive assistance from Pomerleau’s husband and Johnston’s father, Tony Pomerleau, and Johnston’s son, Conner.

“Conner comes in and he’ll do some dusting, but he mostly tests out the toys to make sure that they are ready for sale,” said Cheryl Pomerleau about her grandson’s duties.

When it came time to choose a name for the family venture, the owners decided to seek input from the public. After considering a few variations, they selected the Family Attic Thrift Shop.

“We asked some of our Facebook friends about what they thought. We knew ‘family’ needed to be a part of the name because it is a family project with my parents and my son involved,” Johnston said.

Over the years, the Family Attic Thrift Shop’s popularity has grown. This has created a need to expand the building’s size three times to accommodate the additional merchandise sought by customers.

One of the most difficult items for the shop to come by is men’s clothing.

It seems the reason for the scarcity of men’s used clothing is due to adult males being reluctant to part with their shirts and bluejeans until they can no longer be worn.

“That is something we are always searching for,” Cheryl Pomerleau said.

“Men just don’t seem to want to part with their clothes, but we are always looking for some to sell.”

The store’s “family atmosphere” has also attracted a large number of senior citizens who enjoy shopping in the store to both socialize and find something they need whether it’s for entertainment or their household.

Information about the shop can be found on Facebook or by calling the store at 343-1295.

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