December 15, 2019


Thrift stores and resale shops like Listen's are booming in the Upper Valley (JOHN LIPPMAN, 12/14/19, Valley News)

Since opening 14 months ago, Listen's thrift store in the former Bridgman's Furniture building has been ringing up sales of clothing, housewares, furniture, jewelry, appliances, books, home decor, trinkets and tchotchkes to thousands of customers, some who travel from more than an hour away to cruise the racks and shelves looking for bargains or that rare treasure.

"I love this store. You don't always find what you want, but you can get lucky," said Edith Labonte, of Cabot, Vt., one day last week as she wheeled a cart out of the store with two white plastic bags of items she had just purchased.

Labonte proudly pointed to her purchases in the cart, including a standing sun lamp she bought for $3.75 and a lace ribbon Christmas bow flecked with a gold design that cost "only $1.25," she noted, showing off the price tag.

"Are you kidding me?" she exclaimed.

While retail businesses are suffering due to the shift to online shopping -- numerous storefronts remain vacant along the Route 12A commercial corridor in West Lebanon years after their tenants have left, and downtown Hanover has seen numerous longtime shops close -- the "resale" industry is flourishing. From cast-off clothes to used furniture and appliances, consumers are embracing the thrift economy.

As market analysts predict that the industry will continue to grow, when it comes to thrift stores, the Upper Valley might be the Rodeo Drive of resale outlets.

Crowned by Listen's $2 million, 32,000-square-foot thrift store that opened last year in Lebanon, the nonprofit also operates two satellite thrift stores in White River Junction -- one for furniture and the other for apparel and other goods -- and one in Canaan.

Other thrift stores -- to name only a sampling -- include a Salvation Army location in West Lebanon; The Good Buy Stores operated by Southeastern Vermont Community Action in Hartford and Springfield, Vt., known as SEVCA; Cover Home Repair in White River Junction; Turning Point's Changes Thrift Store in Claremont (closed until February while it undergoes renovation); the Bridgewater Mill thrift store; and the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary Thrift Shop in Randolph.

Posted by at December 15, 2019 7:52 AM