For many in this community, Barbara Pringle has been the face of The Once Again Shoppe for as long as they can remember. And that is probably true, since the fame of the local “next-to-new” thrift store has risen considerably during her tenure as its manager. Her smile and friendly banter in her signature downstate accent greeted all those serious thrifters who have queued up every Wednesday morning to see what has been stocked on the shelves for the week.
Now, 20 years after coming on board as the local charity effort’s first paid employee, Barb is retiring, but leaves behind a legacy of growth and success than can be continued with many old and new hands. At a Monday luncheon at the Presbyterian Church, over 100 of those hands came together to wish Barb well and thank her for all her years of service.
Barb and her late husband Bill were relative latecomers to Penn Yan, moving here in 1997 from Long Island, and quickly immersed themselves in the community. She read an ad in The Chronicle-Express in May 1999 for the newly created position of manager at the shop, applied for it, and took up the huge task that August, despite never having been in the shop before. Her first day at work was her first day in the store.
Barb jumped in with both feet and started changing operations to benefit customers and volunteers. Changes included streamlining the intake, sorting, and placement of donated items; establishing the furniture sales room; purchasing and renovating the building, improving the electrical service and elevator, adding a restroom, new shelving and carpets, and interior and exterior paint; recruiting new volunteers and more paid help for the heavy lifting.
Working with other organizations like the Moose and the now defunct Kiwanis, Barb and Bill together helped get the word out about all the shop could do for other groups and charities. Their efforts have helped the Once Again Shoppe to become not just a successful venture on its own, but also rise as 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.
“It’s been my privilege and pleasure to work with you, for you, and together,” said Barb. “I think the Once Again is one of the best things Penn Yan has.” As a social, economic, and environmental resource facilitating the reuse of goods rather than wasting them, it is easy to see she is right.