After massive flooding, Thrifty Firemen is back open for business. Manager Dawn Hall says, “Mid November it rained so much that water covered everything. It basically wiped through the store. There was two feet of water. The next day the water was gone, but everything in the store was pretty much no good anymore.”
Their location at 613 Pittsylvania Ave in Altavista was formerly known as the EMS Thrift Store. Two years ago, the Hurt and Altavista Fire Departments teamed up to get the store running again.
Thrifty Firemen takes donation, sorts them, and sanitizes them for resale, with the profits going to the local fire departments. The store had intended on fully reopening a little later in the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re glad that we are able to open sooner than we thought,” said Hall.
Thrifty Firemen will only be opening a portion of the store at this time, but Hall says, “While we were closed people would come by. They still needed things. So we would go back and grab things like jeans and winter coats, and still try to help them whenever we could.” With so many people needing the store, they decided it was best to go ahead and open up what parts of the store they could, which is over half of it.
The store looks much different now.
“We had an awesome floor cleaner.” Hall said. “Everything is so clean. The Fire Department guys have been painting and knocking down walls.”
Hall mentioned that after the flood, “Everything was all wet and moldy. Everyone pitched in. We had lots of volunteers to come in and clean up. New Prospect Baptist Church sent help and the youth group came and helped clean mud off the fixtures.”
The store only employs one full time person and two part time people who come in to take donations and sort items. Volunteers handle everything else. “Sometimes we have volunteers, but with COVID we don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s health. A lot of our volunteers are in the more vulnerable category,” said Hall.
Hall said the store started taking donations about two weeks ago.
“We can definitely use everything, and anything that would help others in the community,” Hall said.
The store does not accept mattresses, box springs, or big box televisions. The store will also pick up furniture donations.
“The fire departments will come pick it up, they can call and schedule it, and it’s usually within a few days,” Hall said about furniture donations.
Hall said she and local firemen are grateful for the community’s response over the last several weeks.
“The community has been great, we have gotten messages every day to see if we need donations. We want to thank everybody for their patience, for their kind words. Everyone’s pitched in, the community has helped out and even held donations until we could reopen,” Hall said.
For now, the store’s hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thrifty Firemen is closed on Sundays.