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New store sells old cast-offs in Madison County

Ellen Abbot

There's a new place to shop in Madison County, and this new store will get its stock from an unlikely source, the county dump.

The ReUse Store is the brainchild of Madison County Recycling Coordinator Sharon Driscoll.  For years, she watched as perfectly good household items were pushed into the pile of trash at the county landfill, and her dream was to pluck them out so they could be used again.

"Finally Jim Zecca, the director of the landfill, said, well,  because the DEC [Department of Environmental Conservation] wants us to promote reuse, I could finally have my brainchild become a reality,"  said Driscoll.

That reality is the new Madison County ReUse Store, operating out of what used to be a garage at the transfer station in the town of Lincoln. Anyone can browse the aisles of gently used items and buy them, with proceeds going to the the county's partner in the endeavor, Rescue Mission of Syracuse, according to the county's Solid Waste Director Jim Zecca.  

"We're taking materials that were destined for the landfill or the scrap metal pile, pulling those materials out that have reuse value and can be reused rather than going into the landfill, or being dispose of as scrap metal," said Zecca.

Inside the store is a myriad of items, from tools, to golf clubs, to toys. Driscoll emphasizes that the items in the store aren't pulled from a pile of garbage.

"I have talked to all my transfer station attendants, and if they see something good come in, they pull it out before it comes anywhere near any garbage," she said.

Driscoll scoured thrift stores in the area to make sure prices are fair, and she sees some items that could be valuable.   

"Some of these wagons, if they are restored, could be worth a lot of money.  I saw a tricycle that had been restored that was selling on eBay for $1,600. We can't restore them, we sell them as-is." 

Driscoll says she believes they will attract customers who will be willing to buy and restore the items. "Especially ....with Bouckville coming up, I 'm sure will have some people coming in here who deal in antiques," she said.

A Rescue Mission trailer is set up next to the ReUse store that will handle any donations.  The one thing different about this store from other Rescue Mission stores, is that it will not sell clothes or any stuffed furniture.

The county expects this to make a decent dent in the amount of trash that goes through the landfill.

"We are looking at probably a good five to ten percent of the waste stream will be reduced," said Zecca.

And Driscoll expects merchandise to move quickly off shelves, noting you never know what people will bring to the dump.

"We had a pool table that was perfect. And it came with a leather-like cover, the cues, and the chalk, the balls.  It was gorgeous.  I couldn't believe someone had thrown it away."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.