Bridge Thrift Store supports homeless shelter
By John Faucher
There’s something for everyone at the Bridge Thrift Store in New London.
Whether it’s a high-end decorative antique chair, luxury lamp or a child’s winter jacket, it’s there for a purpose.
“One-hundred percent of our proceeds here go to fight homelessness within our community,” said Kristian Salazar, manager of the Bridge Thrift Store.
Three years after opening its doors, The Bridge outgrew its original location in the former Cenex building on North Shawano Street in New London.
On Nov. 10, community members gathered outside The Bridge’s new storefront location at 1931 N. Shawano Street for an official ribbon cutting and open house.
“It’s a much larger and brighter space,” said Salazar.
“We have a lot of repeat customers who sometimes come in just to visit. They love the great atmosphere and the friendships and seeing what’s new,” she said as she priced a newly donated brass home décor item.
The resale store offers a variety of treasures ranging from furnishings to necessary household items, hygiene items and clothing.
The Bridge Thrift Store and Mission of Hope House homeless shelter in New London work as one entity to meet the needs of MOHH clients and community members as well.
“If someone comes in and they are in need of help we will find something or some way to help them,” said Salazar.
The store assists families through the Meet the Needs Program year-round.
Salazar said they’re able to help by offering reduced prices, store vouchers or free items called pass-on items.
The store is largely operated by volunteers. Donated items are dropped off at the back of the building where they are cleaned, repurposed and marked for sale before reaching the storefront.
“We mark things so that they are affordable, but we still try to mark them so we can support our programs,” said Salazar.
Items they have an over abundance of are passed onto to other stores and partnering organizations that need them.
The Bridge also provides valuable work experience, training and social opportunities for MOHH clients who are working to advance life skills and become self-sustainable.
“Sometimes when people go through a hard time they tend to get set back somehow. So just being around other people and customers can help them build their confidence and moral,” said Salazar.
Aside from keeping busy and gaining work experience, The Bridge provides a safe and unique environment for a wide range of volunteers.
“We’re always looking for volunteers for a number of things and not just here,” said Salazar.
MOHH house utilizes volunteer professionals who offer services in everything from landscaping to teaching personal finance and parenting skills classes.
Pat Puffe, a retired healthcare worker, has volunteered at the Bridge since they first opened their doors over three years ago.
Puffe who is now 85, volunteers at the store six days a week.
She says seeing people every day and being able to help out is what keeps her going.
“I’ve always been one that has to keep busy.”
“It’s a good thing,” said Puffe.
“I don’t know what I’d do without this place.”