Money spent at local thrift store helps low-income seniors

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Thrift Smart shop on San Mateo survived the pandemic, but is still hoping to thrive.

“During the pandemic, we lost pretty much 95% of our volunteer base and many haven’t come back. Fortunately, I was able to cover all the shifts, and that makes for the 60 hours,” said Robert Slezak, Thrift Smart’s volunteer manager.

It’s down to Slezak and two other volunteers working the floor.

“As far as clothing, we make sure that’s cleaned. Linens and towels are all washed. Furniture is refinished and oiled. (We) try to make a nice environment in the store here, very relaxing to shop,” Slezak said.

Everything in the store is tax-free, but the best part is that the money spent at Thrift Smart goes directly to low-income seniors. The nonprofit Silver Horizons owns the thrift store.

“We are the only organization in New Mexico that is specifically designated to help low-income seniors. We provide free groceries, home improvement repairs and utility assistance,” said Joan Punt, the board president for Silver Horizons.

Punt added that they rely heavily on food donations to help at least 3,000 seniors and any grandchildren they’re raising, but the pandemic made things harder — especially for fundraising. The shop helped foot the bill.

“The thrift store is invaluable to us,” she said. “The money that Robert is able to generate through this store goes directly into our food distribution program.”

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.