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Potsdam thrift store celebrates 40 years

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POTSDAM — The Council of Religious Concern is marking 40 years of helping the community by providing bargain clothes with a series of celebrations.

The store was founded on April 8, 1973, by a group of Potsdam churches that wanted a way 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.

Mrs. James has worked for the store for the past 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 community members for people in need to come get free used clothes. The proceeds from paying customers all 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 to the brim.

C.O.R.C. has been looking for a new location for the last three years, but the search has proved more difficult than anticipated.

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

The store needs a location within the village to meet the needs of its customers, according to Mrs. James. But finding a place with enough space and 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 businesses, every item in the store will cost only 40 cents.

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