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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
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Potsdam thrift store celebrates 40 years


POTSDAM — The Council of Religious Concern, which helps the community by providing bargain clothes, is marking its 40th year with a series of celebrations.

The store was founded April 8, 1973, by a group of Potsdam churches that wanted to distribute clothing to community members in need. It opened in a house at 8 Willow St. and has been there ever since.

“Forty years is a long time,” said Andrea M. James, the store’s manager and sole full-time employee.

Ms. James and the store’s two part-time workers celebrated the anniversary with customers with cake, ice cream and discounts. The celebration will continue throughout the summer.

“I think it’s exciting. We had a really fun time at the birthday bash,” Mrs. James said.

She has worked for the store for 17 years. In that time she has seen the store grow, and during the recent economic downturn she has seen the need for cheap, used clothing increase.

“I think it’s a sign of the times,” she said.

The council provides vouchers to churches and residents for people in need to get free used clothes. The proceeds from paying customers go back into running the store.

Donations have gone up along with the number of customers. The store’s donation drop-off box — added to the house, along with a storage room, about 15 years ago — is often filled.

The council has been looking for a new location for the three years, but the search has proved more difficult than anticipated.

The group hired an architect to draft plans for an expansion of the current building, only to discover that the site did not have enough space to meet its needs.

The store needs a location in the village to meet the needs of its customers, Mrs. James said. But finding a place with enough space at the right price is proving difficult.

“We’re still looking. We’re trying to find a place that’s within our price range,” she said.

The next birthday celebration is July 13, during Potsdam’s Summerfest. In honor of 40 years in business, every item in the store will cost only 40 cents.

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