The tradition continues, and residents are so glad
The Corner Store at Marjorie P. Lee reopened shortly before summer arrived, and Joanie Thomas, one of several volunteers who staff the store, has this advice for residents and everybody else in the senior living community: “Come and get it!”
The store’s reopening is yet another return to normalcy from the depths of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. But Thomas said some residents who moved in during the past 2½ years, while the store was temporarily closed, haven’t yet visited.
It’s simpler, more accessible
“It’s wonderful,” Thomas said. “The store is so improved. They redid the whole thing. It’s brighter, it’s simpler, it’s more accessible.”
And residents “are so glad it’s open,” Thomas added.
Even after the store closed during the heaviest part of the pandemic — before people became adept at shopping online — Marjorie P. Lee team members continued taking orders from residents during mornings, and delivering items to them in the afternoons.
Grace Elliott, a receptionist at Marjorie P. Lee, completely cleaned the space during the store’s temporary closure and adjusted shelves lower, so items were easier for customers to reach.
“She really organized it to make it more accessible,” said Katrina Traylor, the administrative and volunteer services manager at Marjorie P, Lee.
Inexpensive items for sale
“The most economical things are dollar ice cream – just a dollar – and our dollar cards,” said Thomas, who has worked at the store for about 10 months. “Perfection. You can’t find a better buy anywhere.”
In fact, “There are no cards over $2, so the cards are very affordable, and they’re cute,” Traylor said.
“You’d pay $4 or $5 in a regular card shop for them,” said resident Ann Hunter, who has lived at Marjorie P. Lee for nine years and worked at the store for about four. “You can’t really find a card for under $3 in any other shops, and a lot of ours are just $1 or $1.25, and there’s a wonderful selection.”
Hunter should know. Before volunteering at the corner store, she spent more than a decade working for hospital gift stores and ran one that was a $2 million-per-year operation. After that, she worked as a buyer for the Village Junction gift shop on Montgomery Road near Interstate 275.
Some residents can’t get out to supermarkets or shops, “so that’s their way of shopping if they don’t have family that does the shopping for them,” Hunter said.
And for family members themselves, the store is a lot more convenient than driving to a shopping center and parking.
Aside from cards and ice cream, other best-selling items are candy, other snacks, and soft drinks.
Also sold are household items such as batteries, light bulbs, and cleaning solutions. The laundry detergent is particularly appreciated by those who wash their own clothing because the store is across from the laundry room. Other important items include sanitary undergarments.
The best thing about volunteering at the store is “meeting people and looking at the good things we have,” Thomas said.
Hunter added: “The people waiting on you in the corner store, getting you what you want, are volunteers, which makes people a little more obliged to support it.”
More volunteers wanted
Prior to the pandemic, the store was staffed not only by residents who volunteered their time but also by people living nearby who also gave their time, enjoying meeting residents.
“We’re working on getting more volunteers so we can be open more,” Traylor said. “We don’t have the volunteer capacity yet, but we’re working on it.”
The hope is the store can be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday.
But for now, it is open whenever volunteers are able to work.
People interested in signing up can contact Traylor by email at email@example.com.
The store “is dear to my heart,” Hunter said. Through it, “I learned a lot about the residents.”
The store also put her in contact with staff, residents’ families, and other visitors to Marjorie P, Lee, Hunter said.
“You could tell when people were under stress because they’d buy all the candy bars,” she said with a laugh.
The Corner Store is conveniently located just down the hall from the Victoria Lobby.
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