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Local Organization Raises Funds through Operation of Thrift Store

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In an era of fast fashion and disposing of unwanted items quickly, one local organization is working to recycle items and give them new life.
Simply Nu 2 U is owned and operated by Association for Community Living (ACL) Swan River, which is a not for profit organization who supports individuals who live with an intellectual disability.
Simply Nu 2 U functions as a thrift store, accepting donations of good, used items for resale in their store. The project enables the individuals they support by providing employment, building confidence and experiencing life skills.
“We originally took it over from the people who ran it in the old Town Office basement,” said ACL Day Services Program Coordinator Brenda Fisher.
“One of our fellows was a volunteer there, and they approached us. We ran it there for about three years and then moved to our buiding behind Spruce Country Computers in April 2012.”
Simply Nu 2 U stayed at 129 Fourth Avenue South for six years, before moving to their current location at 134 Fifth Avenue North.
“It was a functioning thrift store when we took it over, but now it has expanded,” said Fisher. “They could basically only take shoes and clothing, and limited amounts of housewares and books.
“As we expanded our space, we could take bigger things, but we were always crowded for space. Even in our new store, we have a much bigger and nicer store space, but our storage area is already right full.”
Simply Nu 2 U runs completely on donated items, and Fisher noted that the community has been amazing in their support through donations.
“I can’t believe how much stuff gets donated on a weekly basis,” she said. “It’s really unbelievable.
“I can’t even tell you how many tons and tons of items would be in our landfill if we weren’t operating, because a lot of people would just haul their items to the dump.”
Although they try to recycle everything that comes through their doors, some items simply aren’t sellable.
“Sometimes we have clothing or books that come in that just sit, or they aren’t in good condition, so the clothes we cut into rags and sell that way, and the books are torn up and sent to the recycling depot,” said Fisher.
“Unfortunately, sometimes we do have to throw things out, but we do everything we can to not add to the landfill.”
As a thrift store and thriving business, Fisher knows that the benefit is more than just the good deals.
“We see this as a good opportunity to get some of our folks into the community, visible and working,” she said. “We always have a hard time getting jobs for the people who we support and the store provides the space to do that.
“The store fills a need for basic clothing needs at an affordable rate, as well as allows our members to earn a little more money than they did before.”
At this point, the store is earning enough to pay rent, and the wages of the individuals work there, but Fisher added that it is a goal to make enough to pay a full-time coordinator, rather than sharing the role between three people.
“We're so pleased with our new facility as we are more visible and shows that the people we support are contributing members of the community,” said Fisher. “We get many positive comments about how nice our store is, and that comes from our employees doing their job to keep it clean and presentable.
“Being here also may give us the opportunity to expand our hours at some point as well.”
With the new building, came a new drop-off and lRGER storage section.
“We are able to take donations from 9:15-11:45 a.m. Monday through Friday, as well as during regular store hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:30-3:30 p.m.,” said Fisher. “We can also work to arrange a different drop-off time, because items left outside our door aren’t always sellable, and we don’t want to have to throw away the donations.”
Fisher added that donations left outside their building are often stolen, or are unable to be used due to their condition.
“We know people want us to get their donations, so we strongly encourage dropping off when we are there to receive the items,” she said.
Simply Nu 2 U has worked hard to improve their facility to provide a service to the area.
“At the end of the day, we just want to be a part of the community, and this facility helps us do that,” concluded Fisher.

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Jessica Bergen
REPORTER
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