Local Woman to Open Nonprofit Secondhand Store in Former Salvation Army Building

| December 27, 2018

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – A new secondhand store and donation center will open in the former Salvation Army location in Sugarcreek thanks to the work of a local woman.

Ellen Gierlach, a lifelong Venango County resident, has been busy procuring shelving units and other items in preparation of the opening of “Gems Donation Station,” a new locally operated non-profit.

According to Gierlach, she decided to take on the project after she heard about the closure of the Salvation Army store.

“There’s just such a need for it in our county, so I thought why not?” explained Gierlach.

Gierlach has planned for the store to be much like the former thrift store, with everything from clothing to household goods and furniture for sale, but she also wants to add a few new items and twists to her new venture.

“We’ll have consignment and vendors, too, and I have one room for construction salvage that I might expand on,” Gierlach said. “We don’t have anything like that around here, either.”

While Gierlach said the closure of the Salvation Army Family Thrift Store was the catalyst for her to start the nonprofit venture, that location was not her first choice.

“I wanted a different location and wasn’t able to procure it,” said Gierlach.

Although it wasn’t her first choice, Gierlach said that the location offers a range of options for handling donations.

“We’re not going to use traditional donation bins. There is a structure outside where people can leave things, and a loading dock where they can back in to unload.”

“We’ll have more information once we’re ready to open regarding hours and how people can make donations.”

Her vision for the store is for a nonprofit venture that can give its proceeds directly to local organizations that benefit the community.

Gierlach noted that two of the organizations she would like to direct funds to are the Hospice House and the YMCA, but she is more than open to directing money to other organizations, as well.

“I’d like for anybody that wanted to receive donations to come in, and then we’d have some kind of a drawing and pick,” said Gierlach. “There’s just so much need in our county.”

While the operation will be a nonprofit organization, Gierlach plans to utilize both employees and volunteers.

“I’ll use more employees than volunteers, though, because that’s another thing we need in our area: employers,” Gierlach said.

According to Gierlach, once the new store opens, they will accept donations of furniture, clothing, household goods, newer televisions, and “pretty much anything you would use in your home,” plus any construction salvage.

Gierlach is currently preparing the store with clothing racks purchased from Kmart when it closed, shelves she purchased from a Sears store closing its doors in Niles, Ohio, and items purchased from estate sales.

She is also awaiting state approval for the use of the name “Gems Donation Station” before she sets her official opening date.

“It’s a big undertaking for me because I’ve never done anything like this, but I see a need, and I’m going to do my best,” Gierlach said.

“I’m excited about this. My whole family is involved, and we’re all excited.”

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Category: Local News, News