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New gift and thrift shop opening July 11 in Union Bridge

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the volunteers from Dream Big Union Bridge to take off from their usual work hours, rather than sitting idle, they decided to open up a shop, Union Bridge Gift and Thrift Boutique.

The grand opening for the new shop at 11 N. Main Street is set for Saturday at 11 a.m.

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Known for annual rubber duck derbies, Dream Big Union Bridge, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, was founded in June 2017 and is entirely made up of volunteers coming together to beautify and improve the town of Union Bridge.

“Whenever there is a need in the community, we try to fill that need,” said Cheri Thompson, a Union Bridge native since 1978 and co-founder of the organization.

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In the past, Dream Big Union Bridge has held fundraisers, donated a ‘Welcome to Union Bridge’ banner to the town, and has even offered to pick up groceries and medications for the town’s elderly residents when COVID-19 broke out in the county.

Thompson hopes the new high-end thrift store will help generate traffic and interest in the town of Union Bridge.

“We had the idle time and rather than sitting around and complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves we thought what can we do to get some traffic in here,” said Thompson.

The high-end thrift store is not just limited to antiques and crafts but will be selling a variety of items ranging from toys and clothing to video games and baked goods. All of these items will be supplied by 36 different vendors, most of whom reside in Carroll County and some who are from out of state.

“We’re hoping that maybe some of the crafters may be successful and decide that they want to open up their own business since they’re in town,” said Thompson. “It’s kind of an opportunity for them to get their feet wet without having to invest a lot of money.”

The entire shop will be manned by six or so volunteers from Dream Big Union Bridge who will be giving their time in alternating shifts throughout the week. Vendors are also welcome to volunteer their time during business hours as well.

According to Thompson, the entire business project took just a little over two months, claiming that free time from the coronavirus lockdown allowed the organization extra time to conduct research and get the boutique set up and ready to open.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, Thompson says that social distancing measures and mask orders will be in place, possibly only allowing 10 people in at a time, but she doesn’t foresee the customer limit as a problem since the store space is on the larger side.

After a few months, Thompson hopes the shop can offer various arts and crafts classes, such as wood painting and chalk art, as well as opportunities to host birthday parties which will include options such as cupcake decorating and pottery painting.

Union Bridge Gift and Thrift Boutique will be regularly open from Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday beginning with Saturday’s grand opening, at 11 a.m. Attendees and customers will have a chance to browse and shop items from over 30 vendors while they enjoy door prizes, refreshments and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“It’s going to be a fun day, we’ve got a lot of things planned and we’re going to have door prizes and all kinds of stuff,” said Thompson. “It’s going to be exciting.”

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