Shenandoah County Thrift Store could reopen Oct. 1

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^ Posted Sep. 1

Roof ripped off in Aug. 13 storm

By Preston Knight -- pknight@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- It's one of those cases where Linda Lambert wishes it was not about what was on the inside that counted.

With each passing day, the Shenandoah County Thrift Store, at 659 N. Main St., gets closer to reopening, and further removed from its near disaster when a strong downburst of wind, called a microburst, tore off its roof on Aug. 13. Lambert, the store manager, surveyed some of the leftovers more than two weeks afterward and sees how far employees have come in the cleanup, and the work left to do.

"People look at it from outside and think it's not bad," she said. "It doesn't [look bad] until you actually walk into the building and see."

The store's second level, which normally would have all furniture and clothing, is a mess of wood from old bookshelves, dirt and clothes racks pushed to one corner. The business lost all of its furniture -- one of the biggest sources of income -- but salvaged most of the clothing with the help of a local cleaner. Many books were damaged.

More furniture and electronics were lost in the basement because of flooding and mildew. On the main level, where dishes and other housewares are kept, little merchandise was damaged. Overall, Lambert is still assessing the losses to determine a cost total.

As for the building, which the store leases from Burgess Dellinger, the roof is back on, and shingles were being added Tuesday.

"Mr. Dellinger has been really good about getting started and repairing the building," Lambert said.

She and two other employees, including her daughter, Melissa Foltz, are being paid to help with the cleanup. Lambert said the store may be able to reopen Oct. 1. With the temporary closure, employees are taking the opportunity to perform some cosmetic upgrades, including paint Dellinger had already purchased, that were needed anyway, she said.

But before the reopening arrives, the store needs to rebuild its inventory, especially with furniture. The loss of about two months of income equates to missing out on about $30,000 in sales, in the best of months. The period around the start of school qualifies, Lambert said, because many parents look to the store for back-to-school clothing.

The impact of that income's loss will be felt beyond the walls of the store. All proceeds, except for the overhead costs to operate the store, go back into the community. In 2010, which turned out to be a down year for donations, the store provided $21,450 to local organizations, including food pantries, the free clinic, Christmas presents for handicapped children and a utility fund program for the elderly.

"That's why we're hoping it will be the first of October," Lambert said.

Nobody was injured during the microburst, although an employee reported that people were knocked off their feet, with some huddling and praying. In the days following the incident, there was more rain, which concerned Lambert because the store was still without a roof. She sat at home and cried at one point, she said. Then, last week, there was the threat of Hurricane Irene.

Lambert said she had her doubts if the store would be able to reopen at the Main Street location it has called home for more than 10 years. She said there is video footage of the microburst that shows the roof crumbling and rolling back, and another camera captures the roof falling down on vehicles in front of the store.

"I was here 10 minutes afterward," Lambert said. "I was totally shocked."

But the building has survived, and the store will with it.

"When we reopen, we'll pretty much have a new store," Lambert said. "It's going to be getting a facelift all the way around."

Anyone wanting to donate furniture can call 459-2939. Clothing is not being accepted yet.


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