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Clothing racks at the Orono Thrift Store.

Thrift with the Orono community

The Orono Thrift Store, located on Birch Street, is open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The store offers clothing, shoes, household items, books, children’s necessities and other miscellaneous items. 

Orono Thrift Store is located on the second floor of an old schoolhouse that sits next to the Orono library. Their hours are limited due to their volunteer-based staff:  9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The Black Bear Express has a stop in front of the library and thrift store, making the trip there and back convenient for all students. 

The store is mainly split between three rooms. In one room, straight ahead of the stairs, there are household items, media, fabric, electronics and games from floor to ceiling. Even records can be found here. 

Going to the right leads into the second room, where there’s jewelry and the checkout counter. The individuals who work here are welcoming and helpful to customers. 

Passing through the second room leads to the third and largest room, where clothing is organized. Metal racks create aisles within the room. Even without other people around, the small space may quickly feel cramped. 

Evan Soucy | The Maine Campus

Much of the clothing space is filled with women’s and children’s clothing. Everything is neatly sorted by type and size, and the volunteer workers can be seen pushing carts of to-be-displayed apparel. 

Most of the items can be found for less than five dollars. While vintage pieces are sometimes marked up, ordinary clothing like shirts, pants, scrubs and outerwear is still inexpensive.

Discounts circulate based on the color-coding of tags. This month, black-marked items are half-off. A sign on the wall gives the set price for clothing sections, such as one-dollar tee-shirts. 

“They have really good prices,” said Ben Rendy, a fourth-year at the University of Maine. “Also, I got a slap chop, which is pretty cool.”

Rendy, along with his friends Evan Schindler and Nick Quartararo, are UMaine seniors who visit the shop regularly. Alongside the slap chop, the three were excited to find a Shrek shirt. 

“We come about every three weeks—when we have money,” said Schindler.

While the thrift store caters to everyone in the community, such as parents, high-school kids, and retired folks, UMaine students are more than welcome.

“There’s a lot of college students, lot of families,” said Jennifer Sonnenberg, the office manager.

According to Sonnenberg, the number of college students visiting the store has grown in the past few years, likely due to social media. Besides their website, the Orono Thrift Store can be found on Facebook and Instagram under the handles of Orono Thrift Store and Oronothrift, respectively. On their social media, people can find new items, interesting pieces and updates on sale colors.

All items available at the thrift store are via donation. There is a consistent supply of new items from the community.

“Every day, people bring new stuff in,” said Sonnenberg.

The workers go through all donated items to ensure they are of good quality. Items that have tears, stains or don’t work properly will not be put out for resale. 

Items that are deemed to not be in good enough condition for the store will be sent to other recycling and sustainability-based organizations, such as Apparel Impact, a textile recycling organization and Mano en mano, which helps clothe immigrants and seasonal workers.

Donations can be taken inside during the store’s operating hours. If you wish to donate during off-hours, there is a drop-off on the first floor of the building.

Similar to community donations, the workers keeping the thrift store running are also doing so of their own goodwill. Sonnenberg is the only paid staff member, with everyone else being volunteers.

“Most of our volunteers are retired,” noted Sonnenberg, “without them, we wouldn’t operate.”

Anyone who wishes to volunteer can visit the shop and see Sonnenberg.

The thrift store is proud to be community-oriented. The Orono Health Association funds the store, which has been operating since 1969. The Association also funds three scholarships for the Orono High School, specifically for students going into medical fields.

“It’s based on what the community needs,” said Sonnenberg.

The Orono Thrift Store is dedicated to helping the community around it, making it a great place for anyone who wants to give back or support Orono. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s an interesting place to wander around in.

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