Cecilia Montoya and Sally Nelson volunteer at the Tienda Segunda thrift store Thursday. The little store, which has helped the Socorro people and organizations for almost 50 years, is looking for new volunteers to join its team.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

Thrifty; the Dime Store; the Ten Cents Store; Tienda Segunda. Whatever you call it, the little store now located on Spring Street has helped the Socorro people and organizations for almost 50 years. It’s hard to think of a family or service group that it hasn’t benefitted.

And now the thrift store is asking for some community help in return.

Begun in the ’70s as a way to raise funds for the Socorro Good Samaritan Village, the thrift store has offered donated clothing and household goods to the public in a variety of locations around the city. And Socorroans have come to rely on the store for clothes, books, furniture and kitchen tools, even Christmas trees and decorations at prices that can’t be beat but are indeed affordable.

The original mission was enlarged to include all senior organizations and others in need. In recent years, Tienda Segunda helped fund needed improvements to the Disabled Veteran’s kitchen; the Socorro Senior Center, and the Animal Protective Association of Socorro (APAS) spay and neuter program, among others. In addition, families facing emergency situations have been helped over the years, according to Tammy Irelan, one of the volunteers.

The entire operation is run by volunteers. In years past, Tammy recalls, there were teams of volunteers each day.

“At one time, we had 13 working here.” She pulls out a picture taken at the shop in 2006, showing a dozen volunteers, retirees from the community who pitched in each week to help.

Now the entire operation relies on a handful of dedicated women: Tammy, Sallie Nelson, and Evangeline Soto. Cece Montoya joins them when she’s able. In addition, the store benefits from the Community Service program operated through the county judicial system. However, those hours are often sporadic and sometimes unreliable.

Customers were accustomed to seeing long-time volunteer heavyweight Dorothy Brook in the book room, sorting and putting the numerous volumes there. “She’s been doing the books forever,” notes Tammy, but now only restocks the little free libraries and takes books to the preschool. Another person had been helpful but Tammy now often adds that to her schedule.

During the height of the pandemic, the shop was closed for a short time but soon reopened. Some volunteers didn’t choose to return.

“You don’t have to work all day,” Tammy says. “You can work a day or a few hours. Certainly, we’re not asking you to work all three days.”

Most of the work involves sorting through the many donations the organization receives. Sorting and hanging and resorting. The added benefit is the camaraderie and satisfaction of knowing you are giving back to your community and helping your neighbors.

Want more information? Stop by any time the store is open: Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They close Fridays to avoid competing with yard sales.

Gwen Roath | Guest Writer