Chester-Andover Family Center moves back to Route 103
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | December 13,2012
Len Emery Photo
Manager Sherry Willumitis stands ready to help customers in the food bank department at the new home of the Chester-Andover Family Center on Route 103.
CHESTER — The Chester-Andover Family Center has finally moved to its new location.
The family center re-opened last month in its new location on Route 103 South. It has a thrift store that offers clothing and accessories and a food shelf that offers a variety of nonperishable foods and more.
According to the board of directors, the new location offers more space, additional inventory, and greater accessibility. They are excited about the new change and they believe it will benefit the community.
“We just outgrew our old facility on Depot Street,” Sherry Willumitis, treasurer and thrift shop manager said. “The biggest reason for moving was because our food shelf was on the second floor. Our stairs were steep and narrow and not accessible to everyone.”
An opportunity presented itself in spring 2011 when Curtis’ Barbecue on Route 103 closed its doors. Staff visited the 2,000-square-foot location and realized it met all of their needs.
The family center acquired the property in December 2011 and began renovations. They invested $60,000 and made many improvements.
The new food shelf is 900 square feet and offers a variety of goods. The thrift store has a new “prep area” where clothing donations are handled, whereas at Depot Street newly received clothes cluttered the floors and made accessibility difficult.
“People aren’t tripping over bags of clothes to get to things,” Willumitis said. “We have a nice new sign out front and more parking. At our old location there were only three spots.”
Willumitis said the response from the local community has been amazing. Business has improved and more people are shopping at the thrift store for the first time.
She estimates there are least 50 customers per day now and traffic is increasing even more due to the holidays.
“We had a good following at the other store, but we’re so visible where we are now,” Willumitis said. “There were people in Chester who didn’t even know we were on (Depot Street). Many people came in for the first time and asked how long have we been in the area. I said since 1987. They were surprised.”
The family center is a 100 percent volunteer-run organization. Donations are appreciated but they will not accept items that are ripped or stained.
The family center’s thrift store hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The food shelf is open 1 to 6 p.m. Thursdays.
The family center is at 908 Route 103 South and the phone number is 875-3236. For more information visit www.chester-andoverfamilycenter.weebly.com.