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Ladders Renovations Completed

By Kristina Mehegan; For the Clock
On February 23, 2018

Ladders Renovations Completed

 
Kristina Mehegan
For the Clock
kcmehegan@plymouth.edu
 
Ladders Thrift, the beloved thrift shop located at 16 Main Street, has recently completed all renovations after almost three years of remodeling and adding to the already huge store. A modest-looking white building on the outside, the store is shockingly spacious and explosively colorful, featuring jungle décor in addition to seasonal décor, with an extensive collection of giraffes and jungle animals peeking out of every corner.
“If you were in here last year, you don’t know Ladders. And if you were in here three years ago, you definitely don’t know Ladders,” said Sue Jehl, Ladders manager and Plymouth State alumnus. Hired in 2015, Jehl has masterminded the renovation efforts, first creating a “man cave” to attract more male customers to the store, and then adding a library, a fine china area, and a seasonal corner. Unique to Ladders is also the fish pond and the children’s sandbox at the front of the store as Ladders’ permanent window displays. The fish pond features several large fish, some comet goldfish and some koi, each named for a store employee. These are not the store’s only pets, however; there is also a betta fish, and two parakeets, who were named Skye and Oliver, by customers who participated in a raffle for that purpose over the summer. “We love to keep the customers involved,” Jehl said over the parakeets’ chirping, “We do a lot of raffles and customer-involved events. It’s a unique approach to retail thrift shopping.”
 
Ladders shares space with the American Legion chapter here in Plymouth, but the large meeting room reserved for the organization takes nothing away from the vast amount of space in the store, prompting frequent customer and PSU student Kimmy Singhani to say, “It goes on forever!” The space is clean and meticulously organized, and also decorated in a way that sets Ladders apart from other thrift stores. “If you’re going to succeed in a brick-and-mortar store, you need to make it an experience,” Jehl said. “You need to make it fun for people to come in. And that’s why we’ve bought the décor, because that’s what is making our store the experience that it is. I would say probably 50% of our daily customers come for the experience, and to look around and see what’s new.” The store is constantly evolving, with new merchandise being put out as often as every five minutes. Clothes, in particular, are a staple in the store, with much of the space being devoted just to clothing for people of all shapes and sizes.
 
“The store was mostly clothing when we started,” Jehl said. The upstairs of the store, which is now stocked extensively with men’s clothes, office supplies, women’s clothes, formal-wear, and winter items, was not in use when Jehl first started, due to the fact that it was not safe for customers. “We had to do a whole lot of rebuilding to make it safe,” Jehl said. “So when we advanced into the upstairs, that was when Ladders really took off.” In October of 2016, the addition of the winter room, titled “The West Wing,” was completed, and just recently, a new room for children’s clothing has been added off of that room in an area that was once just an unusable attic. The completion of this room marks the final addition to the store, all in the hope of improving the store for its customers. “I have hit all four walls,” Jehl said jokingly, “I can’t seem to find any more space, so I think we’re done.” Furniture, which used to be held in two trailers behind the store for customers to peruse, has been moved to Ladders’ fairly new sister store, Flip’n Furniture, located on Tenney Mountain Highway.
 
More important than the completion of the renovations, though, is the mission of the store. All profits benefit the Bridge House homeless shelter right off Highland Street, in a time when funding for homeless veterans is not available from other sources. In Jehl’s words, the store was named to reflect the mission of the Bridge House. “A ladder is used to transport yourself from a lower place in life to a higher place in life, or on a job,” she said. Beyond that, Ladders makes a concerted effort to help the Plymouth community in general, first and foremost by keeping their prices low. All basic clothes at Ladders cost just $2.50, no matter the brand, and all basic children’s clothes are $1.25. “I think it’s important that we keep those prices low,” Jehl said, “People should know that to come into Ladders is to save money on clothing in brands that they like, and certainly furnishings for dorm rooms and apartments for students. We have everything you would need for that, and it’s helping the community and helping them, price-wise.”
 
Jehl also has a unique vision for the donors as well. “People need to be needed. It’s important,” she said, “And when you bring in donations to Ladders, we recognize that and we tell them how important that is and how much we appreciate that.” Everyone who donates to Ladders is thanked profusely for their contribution, since the store is, above all, the result of a community effort – in short, a lot of donations. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of just dropping things off,” Jehl said, “We desperately need donations.”
 
Ladders’ footprint in the community is also visible in the form of volunteer work. Anyone who needs volunteer hours, whether court-ordered or for a class, is always welcome at Ladders. This is just one of the things that makes Ladders a mainstay in the PSU community, with its robust Work Study program and many Plymouth students completing their course-required volunteer hours in the store. Ladders also makes a difference on a global scale, which Jehl wanted to stress. “It’s so nice to think that all of these things are not going into landfills somewhere, but instead are being reused again and again.”
 

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