Aug. 19—NEW LONDON — Homeward Bound Treasures, a thrift store at 35 Golden St., quietly reopened this month with a new business model but the same mission: helping the poor and formerly homeless.
City resident John Russell founded the store more than a decade ago in part as a way to provide furnishings and other odds and ends for people coming out of the New London Homeless Hospitality Center Shelter into new homes. The HHC, a nonprofit organization, operated the store until its closing early in 2020 due to the fact that sales did not keep up with costs.
With so many people asking about a reopening, Russell said he decided to take the business over himself. He created a limited liability company to reopen the store as a for-profit business but doesn't plan to take a salary and any proceeds will be donated to the Homeless Hospitality Center.
Russell calls it a "labor of love" and he is still gathering enough staff and volunteers to be able to open to the general public with regular hours. The store offers space to the Homeless Hospitality Center for storage of donated items used to furnish the new homes of the formerly homeless. Russell sells donated items that cannot be used by the center.
Homeless Hospitality Center Executive Director Cathy Zall said Russell decided to do it on his own and her organization and the community as a whole is grateful for his work. Not only are the newly housed in need but there are many people in the community struggling to find affordable furnishings for their homes, she said.
Russell, a former board member of the hospitality center, said his intention is to sell items as inexpensively as possible.
"It's very grassroots, very laid back and very different than most business models," Russell said. "One of the things my father installed in me back in the '50s was not let things go to waste. I go crazy when I have to throw things away. Furniture should have a second chance."
For now, Homeward Bound Treasures is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and by appointment.