Published: Jun 05, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Jun 03, 2011 09:06 PM
CARRBORO - In a small back room surrounded by piles of donated CDs, clothes and dishes sits 47-year-old Karen Neville.
Neville has worked for the PTA Thrift Shop in Carrboro for 15 years. She has an old, white fan to counter the heat while she sorts and prices more than 1,000 items each day.
For Neville, a just announced expansion would mean an additional 3,000 square feet to receive, sort and sell merchandise. It would mean her days would no longer be spent outside in the blazing sun, but inside a cool facility.
On Wednesday, the PTA Thrift Shop announced its plan to start a $5.1 million expansion this October. It will level the current 11,000 square-foot Carrboro store to make room for a new plaza-style facility and an additional building to lease where its offices currently stand. The project will take six months to complete.
Executive director Barbara Jessie-Black said the expansion will help make the donation process more efficient and cleaner. It will also increase the thrift shop's revenue by adding 13,000 square feet of leasing space.
The purpose of this expansion is to build a facility that will last another 60 years and create more revenue. Several businesses have already expressed interest in renting future space, Jessie-Black said.
Most of the money is expected to come from loans and investors who would benefit from the New Market Tax Credit Program. The program gives investors in businesses and real estate projects in low-income communities a tax credit over a seven-year period.
About $1.7 million is expected to come from donations. The community has donated about $36,000 so far. Jessie-Black said the project will happen even if they are not able to raise the full $1.7 million from the community. However, it could take longer.
"[The $1.7 million] is the piece that might be a challenge for us," she said. "But as far as the rest of the support we feel incredibly confident."
Kathy Davis, 57, has been shopping at the thrift shop for more than six years. She buys fun items for the kids she sees as a speech therapist and sees the expansion as a way for the shop to continue its contributions in the community.
"Sometimes you have to spend money to continue to be a thriving part of that community that you are trying to help," she said.
The PTA Thrift Shop began in 1961 to support student enrichment and today supports 18 schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro system. The amount of money donated to each school is based on enrollment and the number of volunteer hours worked at the thrift shop.
Last fiscal year, the PTA Thrift Shop reported donating over $242,000 to schools and had a surplus of more than $22,000, according to its 990 tax form.
Although in the end, this project could mean more money for schools, the construction phase could temporarily hurt them.
Maya Handa, a 16-year-old student at Chapel Hill High School, volunteers with other members of the student newspaper to fund the cost of printing.
During construction Handa will try to volunteer at the Chapel Hill store on Elliott Road , but she worries there may not be enough volunteer hours available to support the paper.
"I think once [the new expansion] gets here it will be awesome," said Handa.
But in the meantime they will have to start looking for other ways to raise the funds necessary to print the school newspaper.
The Chapel Hill store will extend its hours during construction of the new Carrboro store.