Helping Hands Thrift Shop closes doors

Helping Hands Thrift Shop founder and manager Linda Young sifts through some clothing at the shop in Lake Placid on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Young has operated Helping Hands for 30 years. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

LAKE PLACID — After 31 years of serving the community, Helping Hands Thrift Shop closed its doors on Nov. 25.

“I’m very thankful, grateful and humbled that we had the place for as long as we’ve had it,” said the shop’s director, Linda Young.

Last year around this time, the thrift shop — which was operated through the Ecumenical Charities program in Lake Placid — was looking to expand. Young told the Lake Placid News in November 2022 that the ideal space for Helping Hands would have room for bulkier items like furniture. A dream space was one that could also host the Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry as well as a meeting room for speakers and events.

The decision to close the shop instead of moving it was not made lightly. Young said that the constraints of the shop’s space began to outweigh all other factors.

“The building’s extremely old and it’s been, the weather, the winters on it and everything, it’s had a lot of — it’s worn,” Young said. “It’s leaked … the ice out there, the roof, if you went over and examined the whole place inside and out other than our part, you’d see that it’s got to be taken down. So it’s not like we said, ‘Oh, today we’re not having any more thrift shop.’ It’s not working that way. It’s just the timing with it and everything.”

The shop’s stock did not go to waste — Young said that the items left in the shop’s final month of operation were given to “people who needed (them)” and she hosted some “free weeks” to give away items.

In the run-up to its closure, the shop did not suffer from a lack of volunteers or donations.

“It’s been well-supplied always with donations. Plenty of stuff,” Young said. “It’s the only reason we’re leaving is because of the … is that the building is extremely old and it’s in disrepair.”

The building will likely come down in the future, she said — it’s in too poor a condition to still be used for retail. Owned by Rich Kroes and Katrina Lussi Kroes of Lake Placid, the building is part of the 3.69-acre tract of land at the Lake Placid Marina where two condominium structures were proposed to be built earlier this year. The North Elba-Lake Placid Planning Review Board, while reviewing the Kroes’ case in August, agreed that the area needed to be redeveloped, with board member Peter Aliferis referring to its current state as “an eyesore.” The North Elba Town Council rejected the Kroes’ rezoning request in October, ending the condo plans as proposed and putting the future of the lot into question.

Young said that she had made some inquiries into other spaces in Lake Placid to house the thrift shop, but was unable to find one that suited the shop’s needs as a nonprofit as of its closing.

“I’m optimistic about if there was a possibility, they could just start again. It’s like anything in life, you just start again,” Young said. “We’re open to possibilities, as far as that goes. It just depends on if the opportunity comes.”

In the meantime, she plans to keep helping the community through the Ecumenical Charities program. She said that the thrift shop’s palpable impact on the community is not just limited to those it served, but also those who volunteered and donated.

“It’s given people a chance to go in there and fill the needs of their families and to offer opportunities for people to volunteer,” Young said. “But extremely important is the fact that it has helped so, so many people. … People knowing where to bring things. People knowing where they can get things very inexpensively. People that needed it got it free.”


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