Recycler of odds, ends and necessities: Thrift Shop to move

Coats and shoes, dresses and pants, dishes and glasses, toys and books, furs, wedding gowns — the Thrift Shop seems to have everything. Maybe more of everything.

“Sometimes you don’t know what something is and you put it out and, my gosh, somebody buys it. So they must know what it is,” said Ridgefield Thrift Shop President Mary Ellen Loncto.

“Every time I work there, I come home with another story,” she said, then shared one about a well-known Weston resident.

“We had a snare drum come in that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones came in and bought,” she said. “Some of the volunteers were wondering who that hippy-looking person was. It turns out it was Keith Richards.”

The Thrift Shop announced this week that it’ll be moving later this year. The Thrift Shop will leave the small Catoonah Street building — once St. Mary’s Church — that it has occupied for decades, and move to 21 Governor Street, taking the empty half of the former supermarket space beside Way of the Sword fencing academy.

“We signed a lease last week and we have some renovations that have to occur before we move in, but we’re hoping May or June to be ready to move,” Loncto said.

Very crowded

The Catoonah building just isn’t big enough.

“We’ve been there since 1960 and we were getting very crowded. We had more merchandise, more donations coming in than we had room to put out and sell,” Loncto said.

And the workroom where the Thrift Shop’s faithful volunteers gather to sort and price donations — it’s hard for people to move around in there.

The shop will increase from about 2,000 square feet to about 5,000 square feet, Loncto said. The new location will also have more parking.

The Thrift Shop depends on donations, and on its volunteers — there are about 50 right now.

“Each volunteer works a couple of days a month, and they’re really the backbone of the organization,” Loncto said. “They work pretty hard, going through all these bags and boxes of donations and pricing everything, and then putting them out for sale.”

The cashiers are paid employees, though most also volunteer and work in the back.

“There are about five of them,” Loncto said.

Some of the volunteers have been working at the Thrift Shop a long time.

“The one that’s been here the longest is Carol Goehringer, she joined in July 1970,” Loncto said. “And there’s another one, Jean Pedersen, she joined July 1972.”

The Thrift Shop donates the profits from its sales, providing partial scholarships to one Ridgefield High School graduate each year and — if the student keeps his or her grades up — renewing the support for the four years of college.

The Thrift Shop also donates to about 40 charitable organizations, Loncto said, giving away about $150,000 a year.