By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
You may have spotted a white tent while traveling through Hillside Ave. Underneath, racks are stocked with clothes, bags, shoes, housewares, and knick-knacks, waiting to be purchased. This is the Needham Community Council Thrift Shop. For years, this community-driven thrift shop has helped reuse and recycle clothes, accessories, and other wares. Its brief closure during the COVID-19 was felt by regular shoppers - but now the thrifting is back with an outdoor venue.
There’s something magical about the thrift shop. Racks are marked with notes like “Beige tags $1” and “White tags 50% Off.” On them are clothes from brands like Talbots, Old Navy, L.L. Bean and more. “You don’t come in with the expectation you’re going to find exactly what want,” said one patron, eyeing one of the clothing racks, “but you will find something.”
The thrift shop helps fund most of the work done by the Community Council. Programs funded by the thrift shop include the food pantry, English language learning program, medical equipment lending program, the transportation program, and the newly-created tablet program. The Community Council’s services are being sought out at an all-time high due to the pandemic.
As a result, its reliance on donations from the community is particularly pronounced. “When we’re looking for donations, we’re looking for things you would give your neighbor in the light of day,” says Executive Director Sandra Robinson of the Community Council. Those who wish to donate should visit www.needhamcouncil.org for further information.
While the thrift shop serves mostly as a fundraiser, it also helps those in need of materials. In some cases, Social Services will contact the Community Council to find materials from the thrift shop to give to someone in need.
Like most things, the thrift store was closed at the start of the pandemic. Prior to March 2020, the shop existed only inside the Community Council building. Since being able to reopen, and with warmer weather in May, the shop has been safely open outside under the large white tent. “Now that more people are vaccinated, our volunteers are more comfortable having people back in the building,” says Robinson. The indoor portion of the thrift shop opened this Monday, June 14.
No one knew what this pandemic would bring. When the thrift shop closed temporarily, services continued to be offered as a sign that the Community Council was going to help residents get through the pandemic storm. Now that the storm is over, staff members are reopening the shop indoors again - and as it has throughout COVID (and since 1930), the Community Council remains at the ready to serve Needham.