The Second Reformed Thrift Shop, located on Stone Street near the College Avenue campus, lost nearly all of its merchandise to flooding during Tropical Storm Ida and is in the middle of recovery with the help of students.
The store is part of the College Avenue Community Church, and all of its sales support the Five Loaves Food Pantry, which sits directly above the shop, said Ellen Van Glahn, the manager of the shop.
Van Glahn said the storm mainly did damage to the thrift shop’s storage located underneath as opposed to the building itself. She said water came in through a window at the back of the food pantry and flooded the stairway.
“The storm was on Thursday, and we didn’t find out until Friday when we went in there,” Van Glahn said. “We had 4 feet of water ... All the boxes were laying on pallets, and the pallets were up on top of the boxes. Everything just got flipped.”
While the water had already gone away by the time they arrived, Van Glahn said they determined how high it went based on the water marks left behind. She said some equipment was damaged, including one of the shop’s sump pumps, its hot water heater and its furnace.
All in all, she said the store threw away at least 250 bags of clothing damaged by the storm.
“We had a time there when we weren’t selling much, and we were just getting going again with the students returning,” Van Glahn said. “They’ve been very kind and generous to us, and now this happened.”
But she said students and other people have been providing aid to the shop, such as by helping clean the facility.
Jake Rothstein, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore, said he started volunteering at the thrift shop last year. He is currently helping with recovery efforts by discarding damaged goods, salvaging anything remaining and power washing the basement in the near future.
“I think it’s always important to help places like this because they didn’t ask to be messed up by Ida, and if we were in the same position where one of our passions was threatened by something out of our control, we would desperately want help to keep it going,” he said.
The shop remains open for patrons but only on Wednesday afternoons, Van Glahn said. She hopes the shop will be able to open Wednesday and Friday in the spring semester, but as of now, she needs to reorganize its remaining inventory.
Despite the limited hours, she said the shop has received a considerable amount of money to continue operating.
“We have a lot of regulars that come in — you know, the students,” she said. “And they're just so generous to us, they really are. They give more than what they pay for.”
The shop is currently not accepting donations, given that there is no space to store them. But Van Glahn says she hopes to collect winter clothing donations in the near future as repairs continue.
Rothstein said students who are interested in helping with the shop’s recovery can reach out to Van Glahn.