By DON GLYNN don.glynn@niagara-gazette
Niagara Gazette — For decades the St. Vincent de Paul Society in the Niagara Falls area has attempted to provide a place where the needy could buy clothes (slightly used) and a wide range of items for the home.
It hasn’t always been easy, however, to find a suitable place, centrally located and relatively inexpensive to maintain. Often the rent was excessive or the cost for building repairs was prohibitive.
Finally, the organization has found what it considers an ideal site to advance its mission: a neat and attractive storefront at 1919 Pine Ave. “It’s like finding the perfect spot,” one longtime volunteer added.
The St. Vincent dePaul Discount Store will mark its long-awaited grand opening this week on Friday and Saturday. It had been a frustrating search to secure such a site.
The storefront has been open since January, replacing a facility the St. Vincent de Paul Society had operated in the basement of the former St, Joseph’s School on Tronolone Place, The store is now open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors will find a wide array of moderately-priced clothing items, neatly displayed on racks and arranged by size, making it easier for shoppers
Al Frosolone, treasurer of the St. Vincent de Paul Society-Niagara District, noted the storefront is in the heart of a shopping district and well positioned to serve a greater part of the community.
Frosolone said a generous donation from the Grigg-Lewis Foundation made it possible to obtain the prime location and building. The foundation also has a record of focusing on programs that affect residents of Lockport and eastern Niagara County.
A spokesperson for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, said the aim is to urge men and women to join in an effort to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering.
Don Horey of North Tonawanda and is wife Margaret co-manage the store, Jacquelyn Richardson is the assistant manager.
Louise Dusher, a volunteer who also helped when the store was operated at the former Our Lady of the Rosary School, Niagara Street, and later at the St. Joseph’s school building, said that items like furniture can be brought to the store but there is no truck available for pickups at this time. Dusher said four other volunteers including a student from Niagara University work at various times during the week.
Longtime St. Vincent de Paul members recall when the organization opened its first store in the 1940s on Highland Avenue. Subsequently, it was forced to move because of high rental fees and the inability to cover maintenance costs. For a while, it was located near Main Street and Ontario Avenue. The current Pine Avenue site is like finding a new home, as a number of members agree.