Dorcas Ministries Finds New Home

Bargain hunters are rejoicing over the Dorcas Thrift Shop’s move to Cary Plaza on High House Road.

From furniture and art to clothing for the family, toasters to DVDs, the shop sells new and gently used personal and household items. Thrift shop proceeds fund Dorcas programs helping locals in need with food, rent, utilities, clothing, childcare and more.

Now, with its sales floor doubled in size from the former store on Maynard Road, and a Habitat for Humanity ReStore as a plaza neighbor, shopping and donating are made easy. Both stores opened Oct. 1.

“The fit was perfect,” said Dorcas Executive Director Howard Manning, noting that people sometimes drop off items at Dorcas that are more suited to Habitat, which accepts building materials and fixtures, and vice versa. “Now folks will have one-stop drop-off and one-stop shopping.”

Manning says the organization has disbursed almost $2 million in assistance over the past five years.

“We can help more people as the store supports that,” added longtime volunteer Gary McKinney. “This provides a lot more opportunity to help.”

Also among plaza tenants are the nonprofit Triangle Alano Club, which aids recovering alcoholics, and King’s Cafe, which is applying for nonprofit status. 

Dorcas leadership realized the need for a larger site several years ago, as the former store on Maynard Road became overwhelmed by the volume of donations, restrictive parking and drop-off, and an inconvenient two-floor layout.

In 2008, Dorcas purchased Cary Plaza and made building upgrades for a total investment of $4.5 million.

McKinney and Greg Holder are among Dorcas’ team of 250 volunteers, and helped oversee its transition, while volunteers kept the old store open throughout.

“We resolved all of those issues here,” Holder said of the organization’s new home in this 29,000-square-foot former Food Lion store.

The new site also allows for expanded administration and client services office space, and increases parking from 37 to more than 200 spaces.   

Manning says Dorcas’ goal is to pay off the plaza debt within three years. The strategy includes selling the existing facility on Maynard Road for $1.5 million; raising $1 million in donations by the end of 2011, half of which has been raised to date; and embarking on a second phase of the capital campaign in the first quarter of 2012, to raise the remaining funds by the end of 2014. 

Meanwhile, McKinney and Holder say resourcefulness is key here: With the needs of neighbors to be met, all donations are utilized to raise funds to benefit clients.

Donations are sorted by category, priced and, in the case of electronics, tested. Items that don’t work are recycled, as is metal.    

“We’re always looking for new ways to generate funds,” Holder said.

McKinney adds that donated items deemed particularly valuable are auctioned on eBay.

“You develop a sense of what will and won’t work on eBay,” he said. “We’ve been rather successful.”

“The best thing about Dorcas is that we provide help to folks in the community who actually need help, and provide a place for volunteers to do a lot of good things for people they love and a cause they care about,” McKinney said.

“There is always somebody who needs help,” Holder added. “We can never fix everything or help everybody, but we’ve got folks here trying to do what we can do.”

Find more on Dorcas Ministries in the upcoming November/December issue of Cary Magazine; to donate to the organization, visit

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