North End loses an institution in Good Samaritan thrift store

Good Samaritan to close its doors after nearly six decades

awebb@idahostatesman.comJanuary 3, 2014 

  • GOOD SAMARITAN

    The Good Samaritan Home, founded in 1942, is an independent, nonprofit residence for adults. The home began as a retirement community but quickly transformed into an independent living facility for low-income adults.

    The home provides housing for those who might otherwise have nowhere to live. Grants, donations and rent paid by residents — according to their means — support the home.

    Final day: Jan. 18

    The store’s hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1821 W. Washington St., Boise. Phone: 344-0649.

It doesn’t take much to imagine the Good Samaritan Store’s original incarnation as a neighborhood grocery, complete with butcher block and bins of vegetables.

But that was 57 years ago, before the small white building with the blue trim at 1821 W. Washington St. became a thrift store.

Its purpose: bringing in money for the Good Samaritan Home on State Street. Forty-five low-income seniors and adults with disabilities live at the nonprofit home.

But business at the thrift shop has fallen off. The board decided it was becoming more of a liability than a self-sustaining asset, and the store is closing.

“We’re a small organization. It’s hard enough for us to keep our doors open,” said Sydney Gill, the home’s director.

“But it’s definitely hard to let the store go, especially for the employees and the community. We care about them a lot.”

Store manager Paula Martinez has worked at Good Samaritan for 15 years. Johna Dorcheus has worked there for 13 years.

“I’ll have to start looking for a job. I was a bartender. I did other odd jobs, but the thrift store is my niche,” Dorcheus said.

Her co-workers include men and women who are doing court-ordered community service. Patrons include well-heeled North End neighbors and homeless people in need.

“We make sure they have a free set of clothing,” said Dorcheus. “If they don’t have money, they can take out the trash, or do other small tasks.”

There’s never any obligation, she said.

As the remaining days dwindle, the shop isn’t taking any new merchandise. Everything that’s left has been marked down 75 percent. Staffers have found a new home for the shop cat, a large orange creature named Manly.

The shop has had various animal mascots, said Dorcheus, not counting the rooster someone once donated. A friend took the bird to a local farm after it made too much noise, “waking up everyone in the North End,” said Dorcheus.

The shop has attracted people who visit each week and some who come several times each week.

Angie Blain has patronized the thrift store for a decade. She’s seen the generosity Dorcheus described.

“Some people might shy away from those who are down on their luck, the street people. But they are always welcomed at the Good Samaritan. If someone needed a jacket and couldn’t afford it, they still never left empty-handed,” said Blain.

Blain is a writer whose books have been published in her native Ireland. She’s often shopped at the store for odd items that she can “write into my writing,” as she says, a baby bonnet that dates to the 1950s, for example.

Another of Blain’s projects involved buying secondhand yarn at Good Samaritan and transforming it into 10 knit hats. Hyde Park Book Store sold the hats, bringing in $200 that Blain donated to Meals on Wheels.

“The store is all kindness and goodness. It will leave a big hole in the neighborhood,” she said.

Jeannette Flood works nearby. She’s volunteered at the store.

“I know people who have been going there since they were kids. Now they’re in their 50s,” Flood said.

She equates the Good Samaritan thrift store with the still-mourned Hollywood Market.

“It’s the same idea of something that hasn’t gone commercial. It’s been a mainstay,” said Flood.

The Good Samaritan Home owns the thrift store building. Board members have discussed selling it to raise money for renovations at the home but have made no decisions, said Gill.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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