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Listen Opens Vast New Store on Miracle Mile in Lebanon

  • Listen administrators, employees, guests and shoppers cheer after Laurel Stavis, chair of the board of directors, cut the ribbon to officially open the new Listen Thrift Store on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon, N.H., on Oct. 5, 2018. The 34,000 square-foot building consolidates inventory from the downtown Lebanon store and the White River Junction furniture store and centralizes donations to one location. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • Sharon Kimball and Ray Winning add more jewelry to a display case at the new Listen Thrift Store on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon, N.H., on Oct. 5, 2018. Kimball started working in 1981 at the downtown Lebanon location, a former rooming house. Winning has worked for Listen for about a year. The wall behind the counter shows the programs Listen's stores have helped fund over the past year. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

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    Kelly Cusick, of Hanover, N.H., inspects handbags for sale at the Listen Thrift Store on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon, N.H., on Oct. 5, 2018. Cusick was shopping with her sister. "It's my favorite store," said Cusick, who shops there 2 to 3 times a week. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

  • Biverly V. Parrish prices items to be sold at the new Listen Thrift Store on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon, N.H., on Oct. 5, 2018. Parrish, who has been working for Listen for six months, transferred from Canaan to the Lebanon location. The whole basement of the former Bridgman's furniture store is used for sorting donations for all three thrift store locations, including Canaan and White River Junction. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

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    Donald Pfaefflin, of Orange, N.H., drops an armful of books for Max Trombly to ring up on the opening day at the new Listen Thrift Store on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon, N.H., on Oct. 5, 2018. "I love it," said Pfaefflin of the new store. "It's nice to have more room." He said he donated more than $700 worth of items to Listen over the past year. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Sarah Dahlen, of West Lebanon, N.H., shops with her daughter Alice, 3, as she cradles her infant Auden Bland in a baby carrier on opening day of the Listen Thrift Store on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon, N.H., on Oct. 5, 2018. The 34,000 square-foot building consolidates inventory from the downtown Lebanon store and the White River Junction furniture store and centralizes donations to one location. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/5/2018 12:43:12 PM
Modified: 10/6/2018 12:00:15 AM

Lebanon — Even before the new Listen Thrift Store officially opened on Friday morning, Goldina McIntyre and her daughter Kim Grover knew what they wanted to purchase.

The duo had peeked in the windows of the 34,000-square-foot store along Route 4 prior to the grand opening and saw some items that would fit perfectly into Grover’s new home in Eastman.

“It’s like Black Friday here,” said McIntyre, who along with her family was the first of about 100 people in line outside of the store.

McIntyre and Grover frequently donate to the Listen nonprofit and, in fact, had a few contractor bags full of clothing with them to donate.

The give-and-take model is just how Listen thrives — and it’s what helped management open the new “anchor” store in the old Bridgman’s furniture building on the Miracle Mile.

“Good morning — we can shop!” store manager Cody Jekubovich shouted just after Listen Board of Trustees Chairwoman Laurel Stavis cut a red ribbon with a large pair of shiny scissors shortly before 9 a.m. Shoppers roared back with a cheer, and just like that, customers were off to the races.

Some made it to the register with items within minutes, while others took their time canvassing the aisles.

Unlike the old Listen thrift store on Hanover Street in Lebanon, the contents of the new store can’t even begin to be seen from the entrance.

Large signs labeling each area greeted shoppers as they explored — the store is broken into several departments, including a media room, a furniture section, housewares and electronics.

And that’s just one side of the building.

The middle of the store is complete with racks and racks of clothing, and the walls are lined neatly with shoes.

Children have their own spot featuring games, toys and clothes.

And there is an area devoted to holiday decor that will change with the seasons.

“It’s beautiful,” said Meriden resident Melinda Meyerhoff, a frequent Listen shopper who called herself the “thrift store queen.”

Meyerhoff quickly found a game she has wanted — Apples to Apples — and it was brand new in the original packaging, for $3.25.

“They have an incredible selection and everything is separated,” she said. “It’s very organized.”

Claremont resident Jeanette Hayes seconded that.

“It’s going to bring more people in,” Hayes said of the new store. “I know people who didn’t come to the other store because it was too small.”

The size of the store never stopped Hayes, though; she shops at Listen two or three times a week. She took the day off from work to attend the grand opening.

“I don’t even shop retail anymore,” said Hayes as she lugged a large plastic toy chest filled with items toward the cash register.

As of 4 p.m., Listen had logged close to $30,000 in sales on Friday.

Behind the Scenes

Fortunately, space is no longer an issue, said Listen Executive Director Kyle Fisher, who grinned ear to ear throughout the morning as he watched people continuously pour in the front door.

“I am so excited that this has finally come to its completion here,” Fisher said. “Listen has been open for 46 years and this is really going to set us up for the next 46 years. It is incredible what we have grown from.”

To illustrate that growth, Fisher said, the first Listen store that opened in a different Hanover Street location in the early 1970s made the same amount of money in sales in a year as Listen does now in three days.

Listen officials hope the nonprofit’s ability to help others will only increase with more space. The new store is more than 12 times the square footage as the old space.

Profits help fund the array of services Listen offers, which include food programs such as a pantry and Heating Helpers, which helps families with fuel assistance.

Before the new store opened, there was limited room to house donations at both the old Lebanon location and at the thrift store in White River Junction, which sits just over the Connecticut River off Route 4.

Often, an unsightly pile of donations would stack up, something that will no longer happen, Fisher said.

At the new Lebanon store, the back of the building and the entire basement are devoted to the behind-the-scenes process of running a thrift store.

There is a loading dock out back where people who donate will be greeted by a volunteer or an employee who will take the donations inside and bring them downstairs.

A clothing donation, for example, would head to the sorting room, where volunteers check the items for quality before putting them into the correct bin, such as women’s, men’s or children’s clothes.

The clothes then move on down the line to be priced and hung on racks before they are brought up to the sales floor.

Similarly in the warehouse portion of the building, furniture donations will be brought in through one of three large bays — something no Listen store has ever had. A truck driver can back right in and workers can offload pieces into the giant warehouse, a safe and dry storage space to place them before they can be priced and hit the showroom floor, Fisher said.

That area is where Rob Broadwell works. The warehouse and trucking manager used to have to lug items into the basement and then back upstairs in the old furniture store in White River Junction that had been 25,000 Gifts and Woolens.

“This is a drastic improvement,” he said. “And we have room to grow into.”

The new store, which has an elevator, will be the place where all donations ultimately end up — donations still will be accepted in White River Junction. The store in West Canaan will operate as it always has.

The old Lebanon store on Hanover Street will stay open as office space for Listen employees and will be the hub for Listen’s various programs, many of which are expanding by the day, Fisher said. The Listen Food Pantry, which officials also hope to bolster, is in that location, too.

The former 25,000 Gifts building is on the market for $350,000.

Listen was able to follow through with the $2 million purchase of the former Bridgman’s building thanks to community donors, Fisher said. The nonprofit has a loan out on the property through Mascoma Bank. To help with finances, Listen will kick off a capital campaign this winter.

For most, Listen is so much more than just a thrift store.

“I’m all for the environmental aspect of it,” said Janet Potter, of White River Junction. “It’s really cool to see a lot of this not going into the landfill. When it makes it cool for people to shop used — I think it’s great.”

The new store will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.




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