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Prairie Harvest Mental Health to close Home Place Thrift Store by end of June

The thrift store, which has been open for 30 years, is also no longer accepting donations as it prepares to close permanently.

Home Place Thrift Store.jpg
Prairie Harvest Mental Health is closing Home Place Thrift Store by June 30 after more than 30 years of business.
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GRAND FORKS — Prairie Harvest Mental Health announced it is closing Home Place Thrift Store by June 30, at the latest.

The thrift store, which has been open for 30 years, is also no longer accepting donations as it prepares to close permanently. Its purpose was to support programming and housing at Prairie Harvest Mental Health, but various changing circumstances have caused the agency to no longer be able to fund its operations.

The services it provides are based on the needs of individuals with mental health concerns, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Its services mostly consist of housing and supportive services to strengthen their skills.

Deb Johnson, CEO of Prairie Harvest Mental Health, said one of the key factors in closing the shop down is an inability to retain its staff, which currently consists of four paid employees and two regular volunteers.

“We've been advertising lately for salespeople in different positions, and we'd get no responses, or people will respond, and then they don't show (up) for appointments,” Johnson said. “So we know there's a lot of competition in retail, and with a nonprofit thrift store, we can't afford to pay some of the wages that are being paid in the general market, so we've lost some staff to other jobs.”

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Johnson said the thrift store has also not been able to keep the shelves stocked as much as in previous years with items people want. She said people are selling their “bigger-ticket items” themselves instead of donating them. While the store still receives donations of clothes and household goods, the lack of some of the bigger items has left a hole in its sales.

“We're finding that we struggle to just sell enough to pay the bills, and we really have been losing money the last few years,” Johnson said. “We had some funds that we were able to dedicate to the thrift store, because we employ people with disabilities at the thrift store, and we felt like it was a good community resource for people who need to shop in the thrift market.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Home Place Thrift Store shut its doors for about six months until proper precautions could be taken. It followed CDC policies, and instead of picking up donations, it would leave them in a large truck to sit until they could be sorted at a later date.

The store also would occasionally give out goods to those in need who did not have the money to buy things from the store.

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All of its employees are firemen working on their days off. While the company will help with any pests its customers may find, it mostly gets calls about cockroaches, bed bugs, spiders and ants.

“If someone is in need and they don't don't have enough money to purchase items, we do a screening through one of the other agencies, and they refer them to us,” Johnson said. “We give them goods and furniture and clothing at no cost. That's always been our commitment.”

While Johnson is sad to see Home Place Thrift Store close after all these years, she said the future for Prairie Harvest Mental Health is exciting, and there will be more developments in the future.

“Perhaps down the road, we’ll be doing further behavioral health services, like therapies,” Johnson said. “If someone has a co-occurring disorder, we would look at getting licensed addiction counselors. So there are some options that we can expand to. We're excited that this is going to be a great opportunity for Prairie Harvest and for the people who need our services.”

Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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