Attic’s unique nonprofit model success continues

Hunter Herbaugh Ranger-review Staff Writer
Thursday, June 23, 2022
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Attic volunteer Marcy Mischel helps sort donations on Monday, June 20. She is one of many volunteers that help run the non-profit thrift store, which generates funds for Glendive Medical Center. While she and many others are dedicated to the store, there is still a need for more volunteers. Hunter Herbaugh photo

Among the things that Glendive has that really makes the community stand out are unique, locally-owned downtown shops and plenty of hard working, dedicated volunteers. That’s also what makes the Attic so special, as it is the only locally-owned, volunteer run non-profit thrift store in town.

As a long-time fixture in the community, there are plenty of people who may overlook just how unique the Attic actually is, or the role it plays in the community beyond just providing a wide variety of goods at low prices. There have even been a notable number of people who don’t even realize that the Attic is associated with Glendive Medical Center, which is the whole reason the store exists in the first place, according to GMC’s volunteer coordinator Mandy Chantanasombut.

“A lot of people didn’t know it was affiliated with the hospital. I’ve been asked that and they’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know.’ Until we had that sign put out, some people didn’t know,” she said.

The Attic was started in 1966, according to Marlene Taylor, a 35-year volunteer with the store. It was founded as another source of funding for GMC so that the hospital could better serve it’s patients, much like the gift shop located inside the hospital. Within the first few months of its founding, it amassed about 75 volunteers.

Its origins were also much more humble, far from the expansive store that it is today, but over time, it evolved, as has its ability to serve the community. Over the course of a month, as many as 80 volunteers work some amount of time at the store.

“It’s really, really gotten big, it’s more like a business. We would be happy to have one sack come in sometimes in the old place and now (donations) come in with pick-up loads,” Taylor said. “(It started) just like a garage sale with a few tables, now we go through so much merchandise.”

Of course, as the store grew and inventory expanded, so did its ability to give back to the hospital. According to Chantanasombut, the Attic is able to regularly make significant contributions to GMC and has even allowed the hospital to expand on its treatment options for patients.

“I think that the opportunity to help the hospital has been greater, and I think the Auxiliary has been able to give more to where the hospital can do more for the community. Every year, the Auxillary donates about $250,000 to the hospital. There was a year skipped because of COVID, so now this year, we are able to get nuclear medicine into the hospital because the Auxiliary has donated $500,000, two years combined, which is huge for our community.”

While the Attic and the Auxiliary are still going strong, there are still the occasional bumps in the road they face sometimes.

One problem they encounter with some regular frequency is donations being dropped off outside of designated hours. This can be an issue as if it were to rain before the donations can be brought inside, then whatever was donated would be ruined and have to be thrown away, something the Auxiliary tries to avoid having to do. Additionally, theft can be an issue when items meant for donation are left outside without supervision.

Those donating items are also encouraged to inspect them before donating, as items, particularly clothes, that have sat in storage for extended amounts of time could contain contaminants that could be injurious to volunteers’ health when they sort donations.

The Attic is also in the need for more volunteers. While there are those who devote about as much time as a fulltime job to the store, not everyone is capable of doing so and many of the current volunteers are older citizens. Chantanasombut and Taylor are hopeful that reminding people of the store’s mission will inspire more volunteers to sign up.

Of course there are perks that come with volunteering. According to Chantanasombut, volunteers earn meal tickets for GMC’s cafeteria for every hour they work and the schedule is extremely flexible. Volunteers are only required to work two hours per month and can pick up as many extra hours as they want at their own discretion.

To sign up as a volunteer, applications can be picked up at the front counter of the store and then returned to the store when filled out. A background check will also be performed.

The Attic is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Items for donation can be dropped off during regular operating hours.

Reach Hunter Herbaugh at rrreporter@rangerreview. com.