It’s been more than two months since customers walked the aisles inside Gift & Thrift, but that hasn’t stopped revenue from coming in.
As the Harrisonburg thrift store located off Mt. Clinton Pike prepares to reopen Tuesday, staff has been balancing making the store a safe place to shop and running sales through the store’s Facebook page.
Executive Director Sue Nelson said Gift & Thrift closed its doors on March 15 and the idea of the doors remaining that was for an extended period of time wasn’t a thought.
“Once we realized reopening wasn’t going to be a two-week thing, we started talking,” she said.
Inside Gift & Thrift are hundreds of household items, books, crafts, linens and electronics, along with clothing and furniture. With an abundance of furniture and donations being dropped off as people clean their houses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson and her staff took to the internet to decrease the stockpile.
“We needed a way to start bringing some revenue in, so we thought why not?” Nelson said. “And while it has been labor intensive, it has been worthwhile.”
Within three weeks of closing, the Gift & Thrift Facebook page began to have posts showing various items looking to be sold, allowing those on the prowl for the ideal sofa or dish set to do their shopping from the comfort of their own homes.
By bringing the store online, Nelson said it gave the staff a chance to have engagement with customers again and provide an outlet for people to look at items.
“It requires a lot of effort on our part, but we have been able to move a lot of furniture, housewares and jewelry out,” she said.
During select days, the store allowed donations to be dropped off for hands-off delivery, with Nelson saying some donation days had cars lined down the street.
When items are collected, they are stored in the warehouse for a period of time to allow for decontamination. Those working inside the store have been wearing masks and completing tasks at designated work stations spaced more than 6 feet away from other stations.
With the opening date nearing, customers can expect the store to have new features to maintain the health and safety of employees and shoppers. Upon arrival, a staff member will be waiting outside the front door to offer masks for anyone who does not have one for free or through donation. Only 25 customers will be allowed inside Gift & Thrift at a time.
Nelson said there will be hand sanitizer stations set up around the store, arrows on the floor to show the direction people should follow and plexiglass covering the check-out stations.
“We care for people and we want to keep people safe and healthy while not overwhelming the system,” Nelson said. “We have wipes to wipe down carts and we are asking [customers] to be aware of social distancing.”
When doors open on Tuesday, Nelson said she is looking forward to having people back in the store and seeing people in a safe way.