The Indian Valley Thrift Store is closing after 35 years due to a lack of volunteer help. Proceeds were donated to local organizations. Photo by Diego Garcia-Couoh

Indian Valley Thrift Store to close its doors after 35 years

By Meg Upton

Special to Plumas News

Lynda Bridges, president of the Indian Valley Thrift Store, made the announcement on her personal Facebook page May 4: Indian Valley Thrift Store will close its doors for good on June 30 of this year. It’s been in operation for 35 years.

“It’s not for lack of sales,” Bridges wrote. “During the last fiscal year, which ended on March 18 due to quarantine, the non-profit organization made over $21,000.”

“After utilities and rent, it all goes back into the community,” she wrote, “but sadly we could not find enough volunteers to staff a four-day, four-hour work week. Out of volunteers, out of business!”

Bridges has been the president of the Indian Valley Thrift Store board for the past three years. The Indian Valley non-profit has struggled to retain enough volunteers. They presently have less than 10 volunteers—herself included—but they are all over 70 with the median age closer to 80. Some of their most ardent volunteers are now at home struggling with health problems. Some have passed away.

“We are worn out,” Bridges said. The board voted at their last meeting to close the shop.

“Ideally we need 20 to 30 volunteers to run the shop. Each shift we have to have at least two,” said Bridges. She voiced her frustration in not being able to staff the store. “We simply don’t get enough people volunteering—especially younger people and parents. At our storage space, I’m lifting things I have no business lifting,” Bridges said.

It’s killing her to close the shop permanently, but quarantine — which temporarily closed the shop on March 18 — has given her time to think.

“Until quarantine, I hadn’t realized how much of my life I’d devoted to the thrift store. I have other things I need to do too.” She cites the mobile home park she manages with her husband and their own house, for starters. According to Bridges, Ric King, the volunteer manager responsible for giving the thrift store its makeover of the past few years doesn’t want the added health risk that working with the public during COVID19 will add to his health complications. The thrift shop relied on him and volunteer Tammie Cunningham, who came in just about daily to get things done. Other volunteers who are usually there are Ruth McRoberts and Sherilyn Schwartz among a few other retirees.

“It can’t just be a couple of us who do this anymore,” Bridges said.

Bridges has been begging for people to come volunteer for most of her tenure as president. The organization gives small grants to various Indian Valley based organizations and sometimes individual projects that will benefit Indian Valley in some way. They’ve spent thousands over the years on various school programs, recreational programs, football, field trips, Little League, the local food bank. Last year they helped Pachuca Productions renovate the Greenville Town Hall stage. Just recently the thrift store funded part of Sierra Institute’s summer program. The list goes on.

“I don’t know if people realize that many things aren’t going to get funded without us,” said Bridges.

The board will meet on May 15 to decide when to re-open from COVID19. They plan to be open till the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

They have both a storage space and the thrift store to empty out before the end of next month.

“I’m thinking about a closing sale where everyone fills a bag for cheap,” Bridges said. They will be selling display cases and display items as well.

One item up for discussion is where the proceeds of the non-profit will go once the store — originally an auxiliary for the defunct Indian Valley Hospital will go. There’s talk of setting up scholarships with its funds until it runs dry or perhaps it will have to be folded into another non-profit.

Bridges does hope the right person or persons come along before the end of June to take it over but she’s preparing for closure — which is far more likely.

“I hate to see it go,” said Bridges.

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