By Dale McGarrigle
Special to The Weekly
In an era of diminishing governmental subsidies, nonprofit, public-service agencies are having to find new ways to fund programming.
Bangor-based Manna Ministries, which strives to provide a safety net in the community that prevents the working poor and people on a fixed income from becoming homeless, recently opened the Home Thrift Store, the inventory for which comes from donations the agency regularly receives.
It’s a case of a nonprofit running a for-profit business to help fund its mission, explained Bill Rae,
Manna’s executive director.
“The store’s purpose is to provide people with a clean, affordable product,” Rae said. “The income from the store will go toward funding Manna’s programming, to help offset some of the cuts coming out of Augusta.”
The Home Thrift Store, which opened Nov. 4, is located at 51 Hillside Ave., behind the Rite Aid on
Broadway and next to The Family Dollar. Its inventory is largely clothing and home goods, with some entertainment items and collectibles available as well.
“There is new stock every day,” Rae said. “We want the consumer to feel comfortable shopping there.”
The idea for the thrift store came from Manna staffer Sherry Molcom, who now manages the shop.
“We would receive donations of clothing and bric-a-brac, and we would give them away to area thrift stores,” Rae recalled. “Sherry pointed out that we were throwing money out the window when it could be used to benefit our programs.”
The Hillside Avenue location was chosen, and it took three months of 12-hour days to prepare the store to open. All the supplies and labor needed to refurbish it were donated.
“We took an empty building that was falling apart and refurbished it, and made something that the neighborhood could be proud of,” Rae said.
Manna also will pull items, such as clothing, from the store’s inventory to help those in need who come to the agency at 629 Main St.
Donations of merchandise can be left either at the store itself or at the Manna offices.
Rae said that Manna has created something unique in its new shop.
“What we hopes sets us apart is the quality and cost of the product and the ambiance,” he said. “There’s something there for everybody.”
The Home Thrift Store gives people a new way to donate to Manna: “Rather than just making a cash donation, you can go to the store and buy something instead, and have something to show for your donation.”
The Home Thrift Store is open 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information, call 207-990-0900.