LEWISTON — After closing for a few months, the SHAREcenter is open at its new location on Lisbon Street, with plans for future growth.
The upcycling nonprofit welcomed members back to shop in its labyrinth of school supplies, furniture and home goods in early February after a long moving process from the former Martel School on Lisbon Street, which began last fall. It’s new location at 1830 Lisbon St. is 20,000 square feet and has a loading dock, critical for the organization’s growth.
Members are able to shop for supplies Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
In April, the organization plans to open a retail store with discounted new and gently used clothes, supplies, furniture and household goods. The store, named G-RE-EN for ME Emporium, will carry brand name goods – including Nike, The North Face and Patagonia – donated by Crestline Custom Promotional Products based in Lewiston. Members and nonmembers alike will be able to shop at the store, and all proceeds will go toward the SHARECenter’s operations.
For the first time in its 30-year history, the organization must pay rent and utilities for its operating space, a bill which totals about $12,000 per month. In the last several months, Rodrigues has looked for ways to diversify the organization’s income.
Last year, she won a $40,000 diversion grant for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, a sum she said will go entirely to the lease. A volunteer has also helped Rodrigues sell some donated items online to help pay the bills.
“My goal is to not just reduce and reuse and recycle everything, but to actually get people to think in a different way,” she said, noting that used items often work just as good as new ones.
SHAREcenter has member organizations and schools which pay a flat annual fee for unlimited access to donated items. Its membership list includes the Lewiston and Auburn school districts, both cities, Community Concepts, John F. Murphy Homes, Safe Voices and St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, among a growing list of others.
“Every dollar spent to support us doesn’t just support one entity,” Rodrigues said. “(It’s) literally supporting over 100 schools and organizations throughout the state of Maine.”
In addition to its main location in Lewiston, the SHAREcenter also has one in Topsham. Rodrigues is looking for other places the organization can expand to become accessible to more schools and organizations.
The organization is in the process of becoming a full 501(c) nonprofit organization, she said. The SHAREcenter partners with Community Concepts to accept some donations.
The SHAREcenter welcomes donations of clean, gently used household goods at its Lisbon Street store. While the center does not accept clothing, a clothing donation box for Apparel Impact is at the side of the building.
Questions can be directed to Rodrigues at 207-333-6671.