HUMMELS WHARF — Hundreds of shoppers lined up outside the newly opened Community Aid thrift store early Wednesday morning waiting for a chance to enter the 74,000 square-foot building.
Touted as the “largest thrift store in the U.S.,” the shop had “an army” of employees on staff prepared to restock shelves as soon as the hordes of customers had cleared them out, spokesman Bob Hauer said.
“Honestly, we expected this,” he said of the more than 1,000 people who showed up before 9 a.m. on opening day. “We’ve been preparing for months so all the people who came in (Wednesday) wouldn’t empty the store.”
The 1060 N. Susquehanna Trail store has been vacant since Value City closed its doors in 2008, which Hauer said helped increase interest in Community Aid and attracted shoppers from as far away as Harrisburg.
“There are a lot of bargain-hunters here today,” he said.
Jolene Hollenbach, of Allenwood, was one of them. She left the store with two bags full of clothing for her children and wide smile.
“I got a lot of good deals,” Hollenbach said.
Her happiness wasn’t abated even by the crowds that lingered by early afternoon and kept her waiting in the checkout line for 90 minutes.
Store trip eyed for month
Aletha Clemens, of Milton, wasn’t expecting the large crowd, but wasn’t deterred by it either as she entered the store eager to shop.
“I’ve been planning this trip for about a month. I love thrift stores and this is one of the nicer ones,” she said. “The store was clean and the people were friendly. And, I like that they give to charity.”
The store is stocked with clothing donated by members of the public, who drop the items, as well as toys, electronics and books in 80 bins situated at a number of locations in the immediate area, Williamsport and State College.
It’s the third store Community Aid founder Glenn Chandler has opened since establishing the first thrift store in Mechanicsburg in 2009 and a second store in Hanover two years later.
Proceeds benefit local nonprofit agencies, food pantries and charities. Since 2009, Hauer said, Community Aid has given away $3 million.
Hauer said the Hummels Wharf store will eventually employ about 80 people.