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Listen to reopen furniture store in White River Junction



Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, August 23, 2019

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Listen Community Services will reopen its former furniture store on North Main Street in White River Junction for two days a week beginning next month.

The Lebanon-based nonprofit is reopening the Route 5 store to accommodate the increasing amount of furniture that Upper Valley residents have been donating. The decision will double the amount of retail space Listen stores currently devote to furniture. 

“We have determined that we need a regular way of getting it into the hands of people who need it,” Listen Executive Director Kyle Fisher said Friday.

Listen closed the furniture store last October when it bought and opened a big retail space in the old Bridgman’s furniture store on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon.

“The Miracle Mile (store) has vastly increased the amount of furniture we sell but at the same time the community has been extremely generous in what they're bringing us,” Fisher said.

The White River Junction store at 608 N. Main St. which was also the former home of 25,000 Gifts, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays beginning on Sept. 6, but donations of items must still be made at the Lebanon or Canaan store.

Listen put the North Main Street building up for sale last September and it remains on the market for $300,000.

“There have been a few people with a passing interest,” Fisher said. “We might as well not have it sitting there empty.”

The move will also help Listen rein in its landfill costs, Fisher said, by keeping slower-moving goods on the sales floor. The nonprofit spent $91,000 on landfill costs during the fiscal year that ended in June. Last year, the retail stores brought in $2.5 million in sales.

“When the new rates came out for the Lebanon landfill that put the pressure on us to find even more solutions. It would eat into the program’s budget,” Fisher said. “It’s difficult to see that $90,000 dollar number when we have our housing grant program with more demand than we can meet.”

The organization has also become stricter about what people can donate and as a result no longer accept furniture made of particleboard.

“There's just so much high-quality furniture in our community that that's an item we have to start saying no to,” Fisher said.

Listen’s Canaan store manager, Barbara Pecor, will run the furniture store. She will remain the store manager in Canaan and a part-time employee was made full time to make the change possible. Listen’s other White River Junction store, located at 42 Maple St. near the bridge to West Lebanon, remains open.

In addition to furniture, the North Main Street store will also sell small electronics,  lamps, desk supplies, artwork, kitchenware and  particularly books, which don’t sell as well as they used to. 

“We’ve got more coming in than we ever had and it’s by far one of the lowest-selling items on our retail floors,” Fisher said. “But I also think  it’s one of those essentials that you want to keep around in a thrift store.”

 In general, donations of all items have been increasing, which Fisher called the “Marie Kondo effect,” a reference to the Netflix star and author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. 

“It’s good for us though,” Fisher said. “It helps us meet our mission.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.