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Advocacy Bishop Fisher

Bishop Fisher blesses reopening of Vincent’s Discount Store

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Bishop Michael W. Fisher shows his excitement over seeing the renovated Vincent’s Discount Store. The bishop thanked the staff and blessed the facilities at the Buffalo store run by St. Vincent de Paul Society. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

Bishop Michael W. Fisher stopped by the newly reopened Vincent’s Discount Store to bless the remodeled facility on Sept. 30. The store, operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, has been open on 1298 Main Street in Buffalo for more than two decades.

The bishop also toured the 8,000-square-foot store that features an expanded inventory, including brand-new bedding from manufacturers and brand-new refrigerators. It also sells reconditioned clothing and household items at little or no cost. He also took part in a ribbon cutting announcing the reopening of the only remaining department store on Main Street within the city limits.

A staff member at Vincent’s Discount Store straightens out the clothing racks. Better lighting and a warm atmosphere are some of the improvements made at the Main Street store. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

“I just want to congratulate all of you on this beautiful store. I’ve driven by here a number of times and I very much know the work, the good work and ministry of the St. Vincent de Paul Society,” Bishop Fisher said. “So, I congratulate you on the outreach and the care that you’re giving to the community. I’m grateful to our volunteers and our staff. You put it all together. It’s your heart that certainly put our faith into action. You know it’s where we walk the walk.”

Before being named a bishop in 2018, Bishop Fisher served as a pastor of two parishes in Washington, D.C., where the St. Vincent de Paul Society drove the outreach programs.

 “I know there there’s two sides to it,” the bishop said. “There’s that outreach and care of the community, but there’s also enclosing that in prayer, in faith. And that’s what drives us at putting the gospel and the corporal works of mercy to work.”

The three-month makeover has turned the store into a more comfortable, brighter retail space that is more reflective of mainstream retail, explained society CEO/Executive Director Mark Zirnheld. “It features an expanded furniture showroom, new flooring, and a new checkout system. All customer purchases are now scanned to allow for objective pricing which gives us better control over our inventory while improving the customer experience.”

People in need can come to the office and staff members will interview them. If they need something available from the store, they will be given a voucher at no charge to them to select what they need. Larry Brooks, president of Buffalo Diocesan Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, told of the many Puerto Ricans who came to Buffalo following Hurricane Maria in 2017. They came unprepared for a Buffalo winter.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher is joined by Mark Zirnheld, CEO/Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Brendan Mehaffy, executive director of the Office of Strategic Planning for the city of Buffalo, and staff of Vincent’s Discount Store as they cut the ribbon marking the opening of the renovated thrift shop. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“So, they came up to her office and a chilly day in October 2017, wearing nothing but T-shirts and flip-flops. They needed clothing. So, we were able to give them a voucher to come down to the store, pick what they need and wear it home. That’s how we serve these people,” Brooks said.

Representatives for Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Council President Darius Pridgen were also on hand.

The society is looking to hire part-time clerks for the store as well as warehouse workers, and a driver. It is making limited donation pickups because the Main Street warehouse is at capacity. Since 1930, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has answered the call of those in need by providing clothing and household items. Vincent’s Store is open Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

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