Another attack on the ability to afford to live in the Chelan Valley

The Lake Chelan Valley, Wenatchee and the surrounding areas are beautiful, and we have been discovered.  But with growth comes growing pains and negative changes.  Right now, if you are a senior, low income, living on a fixed income or one of the hundreds of agricultural workers, this ‘growth’ is putting another ‘nail in the coffin’ of your ability to live in the Lake Chelan valley.  It looks like this town will have a lot of beautiful homes, lovely cars on our roads and lots of storage units for their toys.  But due to the fact that most of the jobs here don’t provide the income to live here, there will be no one to work in the restaurants, stores, hotels, agricultural industries and other services that the community needs to be that town that lead us here in the first place.
This time it is a hit on one of the best thrift stores in the area – I am talking about the Lake Chelan Senior Center’s Reruns Thrift Store in Chelan Falls.   Progress and the ‘great buying streak’ that the valley has seen in the last couple years has left the Reruns building with new owners that in the name of ‘progress’ are greatly increasing the rent and shrinking the space.  In Reruns search for a new affordable space, all the previously good options have all been grabbed up by persons from out of the area now wanting unrealistic rents.  Being a thrift store, it is there to provide fixed or low-income residents the chance to get the things they need at a price they can afford and Reruns can’t pay boutique store rental rates.
Reruns Thrift Store opened February 7, 2011, with an all-volunteer staff.  It quickly became the first place many area residents went to get the things they need at an affordable price.  This is the store you can afford to go for household goods, furniture, home repair materials and much more.  What will the shoppers do if it closes?  With price of gas now, driving to Wenatchee is not a practical option…. What, carry back a new couch on the Link bus?
It is not just the loss of the store, but the Reruns supports the Chelan Senior Center – a good portion of their monthly budget, approximately 80%.  This loss of income will greatly affect the services that are provided by the Senior Center and that is not good for the senior residents of the valley.   The majority of the Seniors that use the center are on fixed and lower incomes and need the services.  And let us not forget about the jobs provided by Reruns, two ‘almost’ full-time and three part-time employees.   Along with the 6 plus volunteers that willingly give their time to help things run smoothly.  This writer being one of them.  
It is quite disturbing to me to see some of the ‘progress’ going on here.  We all know about the housing issue, but now it is the services and affordable stores for the lower income residents that are being shoved out in the name of ‘progress’.  Does every new decision have to be made in the name of the ‘all mighty dollar’?  What is the plan to keep the town going if the majority of the jobs that are here don’t pay enough for the employees to live here?  Who is going to do those jobs?  Are some of the new residents going to come and work at one of the restaurants for minimum wage to make sure their favorite place can stay open?  I highly doubt it.
For Chelan Reruns Thrift Store, they are in the code red phase.  Someone needs to step forward and help them network or share some of their good fortune and help make this a livable valley for not only the affluent and middle class but also the lower income and fixed income residents.  The valley needs all income levels to live here and live here happily and affordability.  It will take the entire community to get this problem solved.  Come on Chelan Valley, lets fix this problem and keep the Lake Chelan Valley a place for everyone.

Christine Courtright, Manson


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