Since its beginning in 1991 as a ministry of the Penn Yan Area Council of Churches, the Once Again Shoppe has earned a reputation of being Yates County’s best ongoing garage sale. Located at the old Central Hotel building at 110 East Elm St. since relocating there in 1993, Once Again sells used clothing, household items and furniture, toys, books, and all manner of things in between; all from the donated items they receive, and by the labor of a team of hearty volunteers and a few, devoted, part-time staff members like newly hired Assistant Manager Eileen Perkins, a recent retiree from Keuka Park. 

The Once Again Team of volunteers includes 30 members of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, and about 68 other caring individuals. And every Wednesday when they open the shop at 10 a.m with freshly restocked racks and shelves, lines of expectant shoppers can be seen waiting at both the front and back doors.

That popularity among thrift store fans and bargain hunters has allowed the Once Again Shoppe to become not just a servant to people in need of affordable day-to-day items and even free items for people in desperate circumstances — it has made it into one of the most generous charitable donors in Yates County. In the last four years alone, the Once Again Shoppe has donated over a quarter of a million dollars to 52 local organizations, activities, and projects.

Among the beneficiaries are ARC of Yates, Pro Action’s Keuka Food Pantry, the Living Well, Milly’s Pantry, Hope Walk of Yates County, Keuka Comfort Care Home, Ontario-Yates Hospice, Operation Graduation, Honor Flight, the Penn Yan Public Library, Safe Harbors, Yates Christmas (formerly Christmas for the Needy), Starshine, Yates Community Center, and Penn Yan and Dundee Central Schools. So far in 2018, organizations like these have received about $45,000.

That kind of charity could be higher, however, if some of Once Again’s operating costs could be lowered. 

Long standing board members including Barb Pringle, Bill Turner, and Wanda Wood reached out to The Chronicle-Express to state some of the problems they face in their efforts.

Even in the best run and monitored stores, theft and shoplifting are always a part of losses, but the idea of people stealing from a charity shop does disturb many of the volunteers who give of their time. 

One of the chief financial concerns is the rising monthly trash bill Once Again must pay due to unsuitable donations. All donated items must be clean, functional, and in a salable condition. But too often, items left after hours on the rear deck are destined for the dumpsters. Vice President Wanda Wood says they have even found bags of rotting household garbage left with other donations, and trash has become a major unbudgeted cost. The Once Again board budgeted $4,000 for trash removal in 2018, but the bill just to the end of October stood at $6,328, says Wood. The problem has grown so great that security cameras and a recorded voice reminding people of the donation policies have been installed at the back deck.

Recent changes should be noted, please: 

•  No TVs or computers will be accepted.

•  Rags and damaged clothes are no longer collected

•  New prices starting Dec. 1 - bags of clothes (including jeans) $6; linens $7

The Once Again Shoppe is open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Wednesday - Saturday; open for donations only 9 a.m. - noon Monday & Tuesday; closed Sunday.