Community Action’s Main Street Store serves many purposes in Albion

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Teri Lester organizes some of the stylist women’s tops at the Main Street Store. The store is a favorite shopping destination for many professional women in the area.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 2 November 2020 at 10:29 am

ALBION – The Main Street Store at 131 South Main St. in Albion is more than a thrift store.

It is a community building project of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee. It not only offers high quality and unique merchandise and apparel, but it provides on-the-job training in retail sales and business. Through their Dress for Success Program, those looking for a job not only learn how to dress for a professional setting, but can shop for their clothing at the store. The store will also supply clothes for a job interview.

In addition, Community Action runs a tutoring program with Albion Central School.

Community Action has had a thrift store for decades, said Annette Finch, director of emergency services. The store started downtown where it filled two store fronts at 45-49 Main St. As they grew and ran out of room and parking, they bought the former American Legion building and moved there in the fall of 2014.

Mary Yockel creates an eye-catching display at the Main Street Store by arranging mannequins at a table for sale.

Michelle George has been manager of the thrift store since it first opened. She still can’t believe the number of people who don’t know the Main Street Store is there.

Their location now allows them to display all kinds of merchandise in a tasteful manner. One room is devoted solely to Christmas decorations, and Finch said anyone needing stocking stuffers or Secret Santa gifts should look no further than the Main Street Store.

At the east end of the building, Community Action runs its offices for the CATS bus service.

Michelle George, left, manager of Community Action’s Main Street Store in Albion, and Annette Finch, director of emergency services, stand by a high-end living room suite which is for sale in the store. The store, which has been a mainstay on Main Street for decades, offers high quality merchandise for sale and provides on-the-job training in retail sales/business.

The store sells everything from household goods, furniture, antiques, linens, lighting, large and small appliances and electronics to jewelry, quality apparel for the whole family, shoes and bags, decorative items, health and fitness items, games and puzzles, crafts, exercise equipment, camping equipment and more.

“We’re like a mini department store,” Finch said. “Our only competition is Walmart.”

Store inventory changes daily, George said. There are daily BOGO sales, tag sales, weekly sales and ongoing overstock clearance sales.

Covid-19 health and safety policies are followed to ensure the store is safe for customers. Face masks are mandatory and hand sanitizer is stationed at the entry door for all customers to use before entering the building. Carts are sanitized after each use and social distancing is required.

Dan Nottingham, an employee of Community Action, provides behind-the-scenes support at the Main Street Store. He stands with a unique hutch filled with collectible Christmas decorations.

All merchandise is reasonably priced and is sanitized before being put up for sale. Apparel is washed and dried. Donations are held aside for several days prior to processing.

The store accepts large donations, such as stair chair lifts, appliances, indoor and outdoor furniture, windows, tools and exercise equipment.

Donations may be dropped off between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. For donations outside of those hours, the store requests donors call (585) 589-1430 and make an appointment. They ask that donations be clean, that clothing is placed in small kitchen-sized trash bags and items be in boxes weighing less than 20 pounds. Books should be boxed separately. The store cannot accept non-working electronics, broken or old technology or damaged items.

All proceeds from sales directly support employment training and other services offered through the store. These services are also supplemented by funding from United Way and the Genesee Valley Women’s Foundation.

Regularly, several staff members can be found completing retail sales/business “on-the-job” training, gaining experience and work history for future employment. Services are open to the public at no cost. The store also welcomes volunteers to provide valuable help on the retail sales floor.

The public is reminded to check out the store’s Facebook page for pictures, sales and notices.

Sales floor manager Teri Lester, left, and Mary Yockel arrange merchandise in the holiday room, where every shelf is filled with Christmas decorations.

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