GROTON — Christmas decorations and winter-styled mannequins posed in The Clothing Closet’s windows, much like any other boutique on Main Street in Groton.
Inside, rows of gently-used clothes hung in their racks as shoppers selected their free items and lined up for checkout.
The Clothing Closet of Groton operates under the Groton Assembly of God and is open 10 a.m. to noon the second and fourth Wednesday and Saturday of each month.
“Our mission has been to meet the needs of the community, as far as clothing,” said Sandra Rivera, co-coordinator of The Clothing Closet. She started the business in 2013 when women’s clothing began to pile up at the church. “I knew there was something to be done with them.”
The store re-opened in July 2020 when COVID-19 guidelines were released for retail operations. Although numbers aren’t back up to what the facility saw before the pandemic, they are much higher than they were in July.
“We have had a significant decrease for quite a while,” Rivera said. “It wasn’t until the fall when people felt comfortable enough to start coming back that we saw our numbers get much higher again.”
Although the service is open to everyone and it has no specific eligibility standards, Rivera said most of the regulars from Groton and the surrounding towns are low-income families.
The financial burden of buying seasonal clothing is not a weight Rivera wants people to bear. In the fall and spring, seasonal items become unlimited when they are no longer a necessity, making it easier to prepare. During the summer and winter, items are limited to 10 per person, per month.
“This helps us ensure we have enough to give to everyone,” Rivera said. “If the clothing is not up to our standards, we pass them off to another agency. We want high quality.”