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The Junior League is closing its Bargain Box thrift store in Cameron Village

The Bargain Box thrift store in Cameron Village, run by the Junior League of Raleigh.
The Bargain Box thrift store in Cameron Village, run by the Junior League of Raleigh. The News & Observer

The Bargain Box thrift store in Cameron Village will close by the end of January.

The decision to close the store was announced by The Junior League of Raleigh, a nonprofit group promoting volunteerism in women and community improvement. The League has run the Raleigh store since 1951.

A post on the organization’s website cited “declining sales, increased operating costs, changing volunteer availability and more competition in the retail market, including online consignment sites” as the reason why the Bargain Box is no longer a sustainable business.

According to the post, more than two dozen Junior League thrift stores have closed in recent years, including stores in Charlotte, Atlanta and Orlando. In North Carolina, the Junior League of Greensboro still operates a Bargain Box store there.

The Bargain Box has been in Cameron Village since 1994, when it moved there from a nearby Smallwood Drive location. Since Junior League members are encouraged to make donations to the store throughout the year, it was a popular spot for shoppers searching for higher-end fashion labels and home accessories.

The Raleigh store has raised more than $1 million since opening in 1951, with proceeds helping at-risk children in Wake County. The League supports BackPack Buddies, InterAct, the Brentwood Boys & Girls Club, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, Helping Horse, StepUp Ministry, SAFEchild and AventWest Children’s mentoring.

The Raleigh League has more than 1,500 active and sustaining members.

Samantha Hatem, president of the Junior League of Raleigh, said in the announcement that the decision to close the Bargain Box store was difficult.

“We are grateful to the generations of customers and League members who have supported the store by shopping with us, volunteering with us or donating merchandise to us. It’s because of them that we’ve been able to make such a big impact with Bargain Box in our community.”

Hatem told The News & Observer on Tuesday that for several years the group has been studying the future of the Bargain Box, and that study included looking at sites away from Cameron Village. The criteria for a new space included affordability, bus line accessibility for clients, and accessibility for those wanting to donate items. “With rising retail costs throughout the city over the years, we didn’t find another option that met our specifications and needs,” Hatem said.

Hatem said another factor in the closing is the availability of League members to staff the store during the day. “The bottom line is that our membership has changed since we opened the store in 1951,” Hatem said. “Now, at least 90 percent of our members work and don’t have time to volunteer at the store during the weekdays.”

Knowing that many clients relied on the Bargain Box for nicer clothing that could be worn for occasions such as job interviews, Hatem said the Junior League of Raleigh is hoping to figure out a way to help those people after the store closes.

“We are in the process now of reaching out to several agencies about potential partnerships,” she said. “We’re hopeful we can find a good solution and have something to announce to our members by the beginning of the year.”

The Bargain Box will accept donations through Dec. 15. Upcoming news about sales and final days open will be posted on the Bargain Box Facebook page.

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