Monday, February 19, 2018

Newgate Mission shifts focus, closes thrift store

By Becky Bell
Aug. 11, 2017 at 12:10 a.m.

Above: Donna Ford receives help Thursday from Shawn Slach with hauling furniture to her truck at  Newgate Bargain Center in Longview. Below:  Kathy Piroutek looks over the sale merchandise Thursday at  Newgate.

A shift in focus to provide more energy and attention to Newgate Mission clients along with a desire to stop duplicating services, and financial reasons, are responsible for the impending closure of Newgate's Bargain Center.

Until closing Aug. 19, all items at the store, which include a mix of clothing, household wares and furniture are half off.

The store has been a part of the day mission since 2001 when the building at 426 E. Cotton St. was purchased, but the needs of the mission must change with the times to best help those in need, said Linda Cunningham, Newgate's executive director.

"I've enjoyed being a part of the store, but life-changing events are happening at the mission, and that is where we are called to be," she said.

Newgate is a day mission that serves the spiritual, physical, social, emotional and financial needs of the homeless, low-income, and marginalized populations of Longview, officials said.

Cunningham said she served on Mayor Andy Mack's Homelessness Task Force, and there was a lot of discussion about duplication of services in the city. She said when the bargain center opened, there only were a handful of thrift and consignment shops, but there now are more than 25 in the area. This, along with its location and road construction on Cotton Street that has been going on since December, has made it harder for the store to attract customers, she said.

"We looked at this financially every way we could, and we decided we needed to save the energy for where we need to spend it with the people who come to the mission," Cunningham said.

She said because of the costs of staff, liability insurance and bills, "we worked very hard to break even, and even then we were not always successful in doing that."

Even though the store is closing, Cunningham stressed the mission still will be able to provide clothing and household items for people in need along with food, hygiene items and employment assistance.

Demetria Anderson, Newgate Mission director, gives lessons about how to get and keep a job to clients and stays in touch with them to make sure they are successful, Cunningham said.

"We help them with resumes, put them in a van and take them to interviews and remind them what it takes to keep a job, like showing up on time and following the rules of the workplace," Cunningham said.

Longtime customers said Thursday that they are disappointed the thrift store is closing, including Joyce Carr of Longview, who has been shopping there for at least 10 years.

"I always came here because they were so friendly and helpful, and I would be looking for something and then see something else and on and on," said Carr, whose arms were full of artificial flowers Thursday. "I didn't know they were closing. I guess I'm going to find somewhere else, but I sure enjoyed coming here."

Another shopper, Donna Ford of Liberty City, said she has been coming to the store for the past five years to find furniture to refinish and sell.

"Oh Lord, I hate to see it go," Ford said Thursday from inside her pickup, which was loaded down with furniture. "I think they have better prices here than some of the other places."

Hours for the Bargain Center are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.



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