Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Mar 19, 2018

Bargain Box moves to new location

Secondhand shop moves to former Walker’s building
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jan 12, 2018
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photos Bargain Box manager Deb Bartholomew straightens vests in the shop in preparation for its reopening Monday. Bargain Box has moved to the former Walker’s building on West Broadway Avenue. Volunteers have spent the past two months moving items from its former location on East Burlington Avenue to the new office. See more photos on page 7.

Residents walking through Fairfield’s downtown will notice that Bargain Box’s large and conspicuous drop-off box is no longer at its location at 56 E. Broadway Ave.

That’s because the secondhand shop has moved to a new office space: the building on West Broadway Avenue that once housed Walker’s, and still is owned by Ross Walker. The shop’s last day at its old location was Dec. 31. For the past two months, volunteers have been preparing the former Walker’s building for its new tenant, which meant laying carpet in the work room, putting up shelves, building a front counter and adding a pair of dressing rooms. Bargain Box manager Deb Bartholomew said volunteers came from St. Mary Catholic Church, Fairfield Kiwanis, the Jefferson County Health Center’s Auxiliary board, a member of the health center’s staff and a high school student, too.

“The help we had was amazing,” she said. “I can’t say enough about our volunteers. Without them, we wouldn’t exist.”

The Jefferson County Health Center Auxiliary operates Bargain Box. The auxiliary uses the revenue from Bargain Box to purchase equipment used by patients at Jefferson County Health Center, such as scooters, lifts, mattresses and beds. It also provides scholarships to students entering the medical field.

For the past 50 years, Bargain Box has given $1.33 million to the auxiliary and $310,000 in scholarships.

Bargain Box will reopen at 9:30 a.m. Monday. The hours will be the same as before: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday. Bartholomew said the show room is about the same size as the old one, but the big difference is in the backroom where donations are processed.

“The donation room feels about twice as large,” she said. “I really like this layout. It seems brighter and more open. I hope everybody likes it.”

Bartholomew has managed Bargain Box for 13 years. When she began, Bargain Box operated out of 54 W. Burlington Ave. In 2006, the store moved a few doors down to its most recent location at 52 E. Broadway Ave.

Bartholomew said the utility bill at the old location had grown to sometimes as high as $1,100 a month, and the shop could no longer afford it.

“Our overhead was so high it was cutting into our mission,” she said.

The auxiliary looked for more affordable buildings, and came upon Walker’s. Bartholomew said Ross Walker “bent over backward” to get Bargain Box into his office space. The arrangement is good for Bargain Box in that it expects lower costs at the new location, and it’s good for Walker’s, too, to have a tenant, since trying to maintain an empty building is not easy.

Bargain Box sells mostly clothing but has other merchandise, too, such as small appliances, kitchenware, books, shoes, movies and puzzles. It does not accept furniture for lack of space. About 40 volunteers per month take turns working the counter or sorting through donations, which Bargain Box will begin accepting once again Monday. The box outside the shop is for dropping off donations after hours. During store hours, donors can drop off their items through the back door in the alley.

The box outside was donated by the former Fairfield Lumber. The store also got a discount from Keosauqua Lumber to build its counter. Rusty Muntz donated labor to perform electrical work.

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