Bruce and Pam Davison of West Paris say that after 20 years of helping with the Second Congressional Church’s annual yard sale, they have learned what sells and what people are willing to pay. They now help run the Second Chance Thrift Shop in the basement of the Norway church. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

NORWAY — The Second Congressional Church’s annual August yard sale, a 20-year tradition, is huge, wildly popular and a ton of work with a built-in drawback: It’s just once a year.

In 2018, a crew of volunteers decided that had to change.

After more than a year in the making, the church opened the Second Chance Thrift Shop in October, modeled after its annual summer yard sale, but now, year-round.

Pam Davison, church moderator, says it’s a chance to help more people in need, raise more money for church basics like heat and repairs, and score more random deals.

“We never know what’s going to come in,” she said. “(Historically, during the August event) we’ve had everything from boats to sinks to all kinds of furniture, all kinds of puzzles. I think some of the puzzles we’ve sold multiple times — people buy them, they put them together then they donate them back with the tags still on them.”

To create the shop at 205 Main St., the group of eight or nine volunteers talked with the town, made sure the church’s insurance wouldn’t be affected, cleaned out and painted two classrooms in the basement and filled it up with bookcases and shelving for displays.

“We’re being creative,” Davison said. “We kept some stuff that came in for the yard sale, that we thought would be nice to help get our shop open, and members of our congregation have been saving stuff inside. We’ve had people coming in, since we’ve opened, every week bringing something.”

Prices range from 50 cents to several hundred dollars. There’s a double bed, lots of dishware, small appliances, books, toys and decorations. All came in as new or gently used donations. They only thing they don’t accept is clothes, Davison said.

Most finds are $10 and under.

“We actually had someone come in who said, ‘My coffee pot broke this morning,’ Well, we’ve got one, and they walked out (with it,)” Davison said. “Somebody came in looking for a pocketbook and we sold them a pocketbook. We’ve got a list going, if people are looking for something, we ask them to leave their name and number, and if something comes in, we’ll give them a call.”

The church, which she said is about 150 years old, has between 50 and 60 members. It hosts AA meetings, Girl Scouts and a Lego club.

The giant annual yard sales, which will continue, have typically filled the parking lot and brought in about $10,000 a year. Volunteers used to furiously price things all summer getting ready for that one day, she said. With the shop, it’ll spread that work out.

“We have people in our community that are really struggling,” Davison said. “One of the things that came out of the yard sale was the year that we did it and this woman came to us and thanked us for having things priced so she could Christmas shop for her family because she lived on $600 a month.”

The new shop is priced to keep people like her in mind, she said.

“We’ve had people who have booths at different shops that come,” Davison said. “We’ve had vendors on Main Street in Norway that come. We’ve had a steady stream of people. They come every week because they know that we have things coming in all the time.”

The Second Chance Thrift Shop is open Fridays from 1-4 p.m, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon and the third Friday of the month, during the church’s monthly free supper, from 4-6 p.m.

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