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Flood recovery slow for Silverdale Discovery Shop

Discovery Shop volunteer Lindsy Ingram sorts through Christmas items the shop couldn’t sell during its flood-induced December closure. The shop plans to donate the items to the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) in Bremerton. - Photo by Paul Balcerak
Discovery Shop volunteer Lindsy Ingram sorts through Christmas items the shop couldn’t sell during its flood-induced December closure. The shop plans to donate the items to the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) in Bremerton.
— image credit: Photo by Paul Balcerak

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

It wasn’t a very Merry Christmas for the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop in Silverdale, and the new year is getting off to a rough start as well. The shop was one of the hardest hit Silverdale businesses by the early December floods and is still struggling to reopen.

“It’s a mess and we’re in the process of trying to move stuff back in,” supply chairwoman Fran Dillan said. “We’ve been there every day except on the weekends this week and we’ll be there all next week.”

The store is aiming for a Jan. 14 reopening, but shop employees can only work so fast. Despite the circumstances, most volunteers are in high spirits.

“Everybody is doing great and they have been unbelievably helpful,” Dillan said.

The American Cancer Society has operated Discovery Shops across the country since 1965, when the first shop opened. Silverdale’s Discovery Shop has been in operation for 24 years.

The shops stock high-end used clothing and home items, mostly, and all proceeds from the shops go directly to cancer research, education and family services, according to the society’s Web site.

All shops are operated entirely by volunteers.

Discovery Shop Secretary and Publicity Representative Jackie Anderson was at the shop the day of the flood and said about 6 to 8 inches of water “whooshed right in there” in a couple of hours.

Shop workers saved what they could during the flood and salvaged a few items later on.

Bill LaVergne, a division Discovery Shops manager for 13 different shops in Washington and Oregon, said the damage was the worst he’d ever seen at one of the stores. He called the flood “an act of God; there’s not much you can do about it. It’s nothing you can project, that’s for sure.”

The shop’s carpet was completely destroyed and most of the walls have been replaced as well. Merchandise that was lost during the flood — mostly clothing and home items — is gone for good and will simply have to be replaced by future donations.

“Actually, it was like building a whole new store all over again,” Dillan said of the initial clean-up effort. High-powered vacuums were running in the store for weeks to dry up all of the residual water that had stagnated in the shop.

It didn’t help, either, that the flooding occurred during the Christmas shopping season.

“It’s not our busiest month, but it’s a busy month,” Dillan said. “Our sales were just huge up until that happened.”

The society’s Tacoma center will help the shop financially throughout the recovery process, paying rent and pitching in with damage costs, but the shop may have to foot some costs on its own, eventually.

“It’s gonna take a good while to get back,” LaVergne said of the store’s lost monies.

Dillan and her fellow volunteers plan to try and jump-start business once the shop reopens by having a few sales, but the road to pay for everything will still be uphill. The Jan. 14 reopening is tentative and volunteers are reticent to reopen at all if the store isn’t looking shipshape.

“People call us a thrift store, but we’re a really high-scale thrift store and we want it to look like a nice (place), kind of like a boutique,” Dillan said.

Fortunately, donations have still been flowing in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the usual days that shop workers accept them, and no extras are needed.

“We have donations coming out of our ears,” Dillan said. “We’ve had super help. We just want to be open again.”

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