Bargains in the basement

 JULIE HUSS/Staff photoThe thrift shop at the Marion Gerrish Community Center in Derry is in need of some winter donations of clothing, linens, housewares, books, toys, and other home decor. All money raised at the shop goes back into the community center's support and upkeep.

DERRY — There's always a bargain to find in this basement and all sales support one downtown landmark.

The thrift shop in the lower level at the Marion Gerrish Community Center at 39 West Broadway has offered good deals for decades with customers stopping by to find that special deal in a piece of clothing, jewelry, housewares or knick-knacks.

During the winter, shop staff say donations are typically down, so the call is going out that donations are needed and welcome.

The thrift shop dates back to 1972, when a group of citizens petitioned the town to lease the former West Side School and create a community center.

The building was dilapidated and needed a lot of work, but town crews jumped in to remodel and make the repairs.

The thrift shop was originally in a small room on the main floor, but eventually expanded into a lower level space and has been there ever since.

Thrift shop director Michelle Buxton said everyone is very generous with donations.

At this time, Buxton said the shop needs all things, but linens and blankets are always needed as well as clothing, housewares.

The shop's staff all works on different aspects of the operation, from sorting donated clothing to steaming materials and doing the displays. Displays of clothing, housewares and furniture are often rotated to aid in the sale. Right now some new displays are honoring next month's St. Patrick's Day while another shelving unit has some sale price holiday items on display.

The thrift shop runs solely on community donations and all are tax deductible. No town money is used to support the center.

That helps support regular building upkeep and projects.

“The Marion Gerrish Community Center relies upon the revenue we generate from the thrift shop to support our nonprofit organization, we say the shop is small, but mighty, and the donations the thrift shop receives are critical to our operations," said Sarah Garvin, executive director of the community center.    

Many groups, organizations and nonprofits also call the community center home, Garvin said, including the Derry Rotary Club, Meals on Wheels, Derry Community Fund, Derry Village Rotary Club, sports groups, senior groups and AARP Tax Aide programs. The center also rents rooms for special events like private parties, showers and other gatherings.

"We are a hub where the community can gather," Garvin said.

Thrift shop hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Donations can be made during those hours.

The shop accepts clean, gently used clothing, books, shoes, children’s toys and games, DVDs, small furniture, small appliances, jewelry, linens, household decor and decorations.

To learn more about the Marion Gerrish Community Center, its thrift shop and what can be donated, call 434-8866 or visit the center at    

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