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Arnie to close Avenue A thrift store

Recorder/Paul Franz
Arnie Houle of Arnie’s Thrift Shop on Ave A in Turners Falls sells some lamp shade of Jon Shina and Shannon Dry of Greenfield. Houle is closing his second hand store.

Recorder/Paul Franz Arnie Houle of Arnie’s Thrift Shop on Ave A in Turners Falls sells some lamp shade of Jon Shina and Shannon Dry of Greenfield. Houle is closing his second hand store.

TURNERS FALLS — In business on Avenue A in various guises since the late ’80s, Arnie Houle says he plans to close up shop for good.

The shop has undergone multiple transformations accompanied by new names, most recently Arnie’s Thrift Store, although Houle said that hasn’t really mattered.

“Everyone knows me by Arnie. I’ve been here 27 years, and it don’t matter what I put up in the window, it’s ‘Arnie’s’,” Houle said.

After his latest business change in December 2011, Houle, now 64, said he planned to retire in two years.

The planned close one year early is the result of the bad economy locally and everywhere, according to Houle.

“Everything’s going up and people just don’t have the money to spend,” Houle said. “When you have a holiday season and you don’t even turn over a 25 or 30 percent profit, it’s time to close.”

Houle opened his first Avenue A business two doors down from his current location at the Third Street intersection, using the space as a base for a wholesale business with a small retail component.

After a couple of years in that location he moved to what became his permanent location, opening a novelty shop, then a discount food store, later adding a used furniture component which would become the main business.

When the retail furniture business began to dip, Houle made the switch to auctions, as AB Auctions Plus, and in 2011 moved on to a thrift store model.

That model also didn’t click, Houle said, and he is looking ahead to closing up shop around the end of February.

“It’s not easy. It’s been my life for the last 27 years,” Houle said. “It was a week’s pay. You don’t get rich running a store; people think you do, but you don’t.”

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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