Longboat Key's Lord's Warehouse thrift store always gets treasures, but this year donation season is lasting longer.
On a recent morning, volunteers at the Lord’s Warehouse stopped for a minute to celebrate a small victory. A counter piled high with donated items was now clear. Dozens after dozens of clothing pieces, housewares, jewelry and other merchandise had found their way into the right place.
Now, the volunteers could turn their attention to the pile of bags in the corner.
“If they ever get through this, then they start on this,” volunteer Karen Pashkow said, indicating another jumble of bags just outside the back room. “And then there’s more held in the storage unit, which is full right now.”
The storage unit is supposed to store both Warehouse items and Longboat Island Chapel items, as the thrift store is connected to the church. But lately, the Warehouse items are oozing into the church space. It’s completely full right now, mostly because donations continue to roll in at a steady rate later into the season than they normally would.
It's a dilemma taking place at similar charities all around Sarasota.
“Usually season is really big for donations, but it’s continuing and we’re seeing more donations than usual,” Pashkow said. “Now it’s mostly island people coming, people donating who are going north or those who buy condos as-is and it’s not their taste. We noticed a lot of our people are going back later.”
Volunteers are happy for the donations and happily clean and sort the endless piles, chatting with friends the entire time. But as the rainy season threatens to open the skies, Pashkow said she needs to clear more items off the patio and fast. She tried to get regular customer and donor Tom Keenan, who fixes bikes on the island, to take a bike rack away to no avail. Often, customers coming in to pick up a few things drop off a few more.
“Usually it takes all morning to clear a pile,” volunteer Shelly Harrison said. “We have to climb over them to get in.”
Items likely to sell stick around to help benefit Turning Points in Bradenton. Also, items rejected by the Warehouse are often sent to Turning Points to directly benefit clients.
“We fill up my husband’s truck and take it to Turning Points every Tuesday,” Pashkow said. “The volunteers know us there now.”
Turning Points, an organization that helps local families avoid homelessness and achieve financial stability, is the church’s biggest charity right now, but they support others including Stillpoint House of Prayer and the Humane Society, which gets linens and bedding that can’t be sold.
The building that houses the thrift store was originally known as the Greenway property and served as housing for the Longboat Island Chapel’s music director and her family. When the director moved and accepted a new position, the property became the Lord’s Warehouse in 1996. With the help of some advertising and volunteers eager to spread the word, business became brisk. Now, they’ve got a crew of regular customers who come by early and often to catch the bargains and good finds.
“You can come here one day and the next day they’re open, there’s new stuff,” said customer Dave Weissenstein, who came by to stock up on books for the summer. “The turnover is just amazing.”
Even volunteers make sure to take advantage of the good things that come in. Harrison, who runs Rolling Waves Beach Cottages just up the road, said she gets a lot of the quilts for the cottages here. She recently revamped a chandelier that came in, added solar lights and put it in her property’s fire pit.
“My friends tell me you guys must get all the good stuff, but there’s no way we could get all the good stuff that comes in,” volunteer Virginia Luke said. “We don’t have enough closet space.”