Super Senior: Raelene Lemery

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 2:15 PM EDT
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SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Tucked behind the Chelsea Station Restaurant in South Royalton, there’s a store bursting at the seams. “We are just overwhelmed,” said Raelene Lemery, who has run the Sunshine Thrift Shop for 30-plus years.

“If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,” Lemery said. “We have books, nick nacks... shoes... many, many baby clothes.”

Down below, you can fill a bag for a buck. “We have the bargain basement,” she said. “Or, you can fill four bags for $2.”

Deals everywhere. Customers -- not so much. “In all the years I’ve been here, it’s never, never been so over full,” Lemery said.

It’s been a double whammy. The restaurant has cut down on the hours because of COVID, cutting down on foot traffic and she says with time on their hands, people are clearing out their closets. “They’re just saying, time to get rid of it, time to clean out,” Lemery said.

It’s a Monday and with the restaurant closed we sit down at her very own booth. “This is my corner, so if someone comes in and they need help or they need to talk, this is where we sit,” she said.

For years, Lemery worked side-by-side with her mother, who worked at the shop until she was 100-years-old. “My mom was always a giver,” she said.

Lemery, who just turned 80 last week, says she learned much from her mom.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You putting your own money into this place?

Raelene Lemery: Yeah. I am, I am.

Lemery is known to give out cash to strangers in need, but she’s quick to add that that’s what she’s here for. “All of us, all of us are supposed to give back,” she said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You’ve helped out a lot of people, but you needed help nine years ago.

Raelene Lemery: Yeah.

Tropical Storm Irene walloped the state killing six people and causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to roads, bridges, and homes. Lemery’s home in Stockbridge wasn’t spared. For the woman who gave so much, it was time to receive a helping hand from neighbors.

“The whole crew came two days and they literally took everything out of my house,” she said. “It was showing that people cared.”

The South Royalton shop, though, is her second home. Open every day except Sunday, Lemery says despite the abundance of supply, there is a demand. “I just had a family that has six kids and they just moved here from California. They have no winter clothes,” she said.

You might not find a treasure at the Sunshine Thrift Shop, but you will find a woman with a heart of gold.

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