DIXON – About 10 to 15 customers form a line outside the Leydig Center just before the doors open at 10 a.m.
By afternoon, about 100 cars will fill the parking lot and the resale store’s aisles will be full of customers sifting through donated merchandise.
There’s a special momentum at this nonprofit, acknowledges Gene and Joan Lemme, who are volunteers at the store and on Leydig’s board of directors.
Since its humble beginning more than 40 years ago in Eurith Leydig’s Dixon home, the store has moved three time as it continued to grow. It now shares a 68,000-square-foot facility with Kreider Services at 1101 Warp Road, just off U.S. Route 38 behind Borg-Warner.
About 82 to 100 volunteers help at the store, which is open only 3 days a week – Monday, Thursday and Saturday – to keep the cost of operations low. The profits, 50 cents of every dollar spent there, go to local charities – last year, that amounted to roughly $170,000 to 21 organizations.
It all depends on volunteer labor, though. While profits and customers are increasing, the number of volunteers is dropping and their age is rising. Fifteen are older than 80, Joan said.
“Most of them are older and they can’t be around forever to help us,” Joan said. “We’re looking for some more folks to come forward. We have to have about 200 hours of labor each [6-hour] day we’re open to operate.”
As donations come in, they are swiftly moved to the sales floor: Clothing, kitchenware, furniture, appliances, books, games – all are priced to move quickly, with prices starting at 10 cents. Most items are less than $5.
“The goal is to sell everything,” said Mike Napodano, a volunteer manager. “A lot goes for no more than a quarter. The idea is to make ends meet by volume. They bring it in, and we want it to go out.”
The low prices combined with well-organized merchandise create the demand, customers say.
“I come a couple of times a month,” Donna Morse of Lyndon said Thursday. “It’s the prices that bring me back. They really are much lower than anywhere around, and all the clothes are sized, so it’s easy to find when you’re shopping.”
Volunteers organize clothing by size and gender, books and games alphabetically. Dishes are in one spot, tools and hardware in another, and housewares, home decor and collectibles in yet another.
This time of year, there’s also a room devoted entirely to Christmas decorations.
The volunteers, mostly senior citizens, are given tasks based on their expertise, and provided a free lunch. They enjoy each other’s company.
“It’s almost like a family,” said Larry Ide, 55, of Dixon, who has volunteered for 2 1/2 years and also serves on the board of directors. “We all talk and vent with each other. We all look out for the elderly ones, and ask about them when they haven’t come in.”
Volunteer Jerry Bollman, 77, of Dixon, likes knowing that his work is helping the community.
“I’m always amazed by how many customers say thank you for what we’re doing,” he said. “And they mean it when they say it.
“It makes my day.”
Stop on by
The Leydig Center, 1101 Warp Road, just off U.S. Route 38, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
It will be open until 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, for extra Christmas shopping.
To volunteer, contact Joan or Gene Lemme or Mike Napodano at the shop, 815-284-7772, or stop by during business hours and ask to speak with a board member.