Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mega-long post: Gainesville Community Ministry and Need-a-Bag? Project

I went the Gainesville Community Ministry Thrift Shop on 34th St. today to find some tote bags for the market this weekend; found a ton of them very cheaply, but while I was there I had to endure a really loud and uncomfortable argument going on between the store workers (I'm assuming they're all volunteers with the ministry).  It seemed to revolve around the store closing and apparently the gentleman who was an official from GCM was being very argumentative about the reasons behind it, like people getting to the store late and what-not.  I don't know what the real reasons for closing this store are, but the people who work there are fabulous, caring folks and I would hate to see the store close.  Anyway, that prompted me to write this letter -- half-complaining about the kerfuffle, half-singing the store's praises -- and I'm reprinting it here because it counts as a blog post about the Need-a-Bag? Project:

Michael Wright

June 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Wright,

I am a longtime costumer/supporter of the GCM thrift shop on 34th Street, and I wanted to make you aware of an incident that occurred while I was there today.

At about 10:00 am, I had entered into the shop to do my usual tote bag scavenging (I’ll get to the reason in a bit) and there seemed to be a rather loud conversation going on at the coffee bar. A large, older gentleman with glasses and wearing the dark green GCM polo shirt, was presiding over this conversation and he was the loudest voice of those at the bar. After shopping a little bit I realized that it was some kind of meeting of the store workers and the gentleman seemed to be talking about something that the others didn’t agree with. The woman who was working behind the cashier’s counter was very upset and in tears. One of the other customers went up to the coffee bar at some point and asked them to keep their voices down as the conversation (now, seemingly, an argument) was being “broadcast throughout the store.” This did not seem to deter the gentleman, who continued to be very loud.

The workers were trying to be respectful, but it seemed like the argument was very contentious and had something to do with the store closing. I really hope this doesn’t happen. As long as I have been shopping at the GCM thrift store on 34th St. (as well as the now-defunct Main St. store), I have always had a great shopping experience and have found many items for my family. I also shop there to find tote bags for the Need-a-Bag? Project, started two years ago by myself and a friend. The Need-a-Bag? Project provides reusable shopping bags to shoppers at the Hwy 441 farmers market each Saturday morning. Thrift stores like GCM with reasonably-priced items are the heart and soul of our project, and closing this store would be a regretful decision. We provide over 200 shopping bags each year to people, many of whom who have low incomes and shop at the market with vouchers for the WIC and ElderCare programs; your store provides us with many of the bags that we use to provide sustainable bagging and reduce the use of plastic grocery bags going into the waste stream.

In closing, I would like to say that the men and women who work at the 34th St. GCM Thrift Store have always been lovely, wonderful people who are always eager to help customers; I feel that this is part of your ministry and I believe they feel that way, as well. I don’t understand fully what occurred while I was at the store this morning, but I hope that if there is a decision to close the store that you will reconsider.

Thank you for reading my letter and I wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors with Gainesville Community Ministry.


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