The A Better Community Clothing Sale (ABC) has been operating a popular storefront pop-up location on Spring Street since November. The thrift store originated as a way to provide funds for the local chapter of A Better Chance, said Andrea Dupras, Cathy Nolan, Nancy McIntire, and Judy Wright, members of the ABC Clothing Sale steering committee, in a statement to the Record. A Better Chance relocates talented high school students from under-resourced schools across the country to Williamstown to attend Mt. Greylock Regional High School. Before the pandemic, ABC rented space from the First Congregational Church and held four sales there annually.
After the Greylock location of ABC closed down, “Carolyn Behr, the mastermind behind and director of the [Williamstown] clothing sale for many years, along with other volunteers, desired to keep the sale going,” the steering committee said.
“Not only did [the sale] raise a significant amount of money, but it provided an affordable way for students and community members to obtain necessary clothing and accessories,” the steering committee said. The steering committee also noted that managing the sale required help from community volunteers, which built “camaraderie” among those involved.
Since its storefront opening on Nov. 5, the ABC Sale has been one of the most popular destinations on Spring Street for students, as the store carries affordable clothing, shoes, and accessories. Operating costs are minimal, according to the steering committee, and all remaining funds go to other local non-profit organizations and programs. The ABC Sale has donated to over 20 organizations, including food pantries, transitional housing shelters, and community music, theater, and sports programs for at-risk youth and families.
Those running the store are choosy about what ends up on the racks. “We have volunteers who gladly do laundry and mending for us, but even so, not everything we receive makes it into our sale,” the steering committee said. Many items that the store receives are through donations and the College’s Give It Up! sustainability campaign. What does not sell is donated to the Salvation Army; the store has “donated towels/blankets to animal shelters and local groomers, [turned] recycled old T-Shirts into shopping bags, and supplied local crafters with castoff materials,” the steering committee said.
As with many small businesses, the pandemic has affected the ABC Sale in unprecedented ways. “Annually, ABC Clothing Sale ran four sales, the September sale being the largest,” the steering committee said. “With the temporary closing of the church and therefore our work space, our efforts were brought to a halt,” the committee continued. “To keep the organization going, we improvised with outdoor collection and sorting sessions and then pop-up sales as weather permitted.” Nature’s Closet helped the ABC Sale hold pop-ups on Spring Street over the summer and into the fall.
The College also supported the ABC Sale during the pandemic. “Originally, the sale preparations took place in Carolyn’s home and the big sale took place in the First Congregational Church,” the committee said. Athletic teams at the College would assist in the “schlepping of the inventory” from Behr’s home to the church, and students at the College also helped set up the sale and staff tables.
The steering committee emphasized its appreciation for students who buy from the ABC Sale. “Volunteers worked closely with the College, particularly with the [Center for Development Economics] CDE program and other international students, helping to outfit these individuals for Massachusetts winters,” the steering committee said.