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Cancer Connection Thrift Store opens in Northampton



Monday, February 10, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — With customers waiting in line a half-hour before the 10 a.m. opening, the new Cancer Connection Thrift Store opened for business Tuesday in a former car showroom on South Street.

“It was like Black Friday on steroids,” said Nancy Charbonneau, the shop’s full-time manager. “The store was full of shoppers all day long.”

She said people were coming in to donate items as well as to purchase them, adding to the hubbub.

“It was very busy. It was very successful,” said Cancer Connection Executive Director Betsy Neisner, who was on hand for the ribbon-cutting and opening of the new store, which will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The store opened about two weeks later than hoped for, according to Charbonneau, in part because it took longer then expected to get everything ready.

“We wanted to open on our best footing,” Charbonneau said. “We had so many incredibly generous donations, it took more time than we thought to sort and price.”

The shop, at 375 South St, the former Cahillane car dealership, covers 3,000-square foot space that includes 1,500 square feet for retail sales, with the remainder used for storage.

It is staffed by Charbonneau, the sole paid employee, and a bevy of volunteers.

The Cancer Connection is a nonprofit founded in 2000 that works with cancer patients and their families and caregivers offering a variety of support groups and services for free.

The thrift store, organizers said, is in part a way to provide a steady revenue stream to pay for the programs offered.

Charbonneau said donations for the store are accepted through the front door any time the shop is open for business.

She said there is a need for more volunteers, with about 25 people signed on so far. She expects because of the number of hours in a week the store is open there will be a need for about 50 volunteers to cover all the shifts.

Charbonneau said the store puts out new stock on a daily basis, which means “it’s never the same store twice.”