The True Value of a Village Staple Closes Shop

After years serving the community, a Brewster standard ends Its run

Charlie Armon and Emma Bridges

As the class of 2023 approaches the beginning of its real life, a part of our childhood has reached the end of its own. We have all led very different lives thus far, but very few can say that they have never stepped foot in Value Village, a beloved franchise that closed its doors on December 31st, 2022.
As employees since June/July of 2021, we have been able to watch the slow burn of a local store as it was drowned out by the growing monopolies of commerce. We asked our boss, and store manager, Jack Calamis, if he had anything to say on the topic, and he provided very insightful information on the history of our beloved store. He described how, twenty years ago, virtually the only existing local front was Red Rooster. There was nothing to do and nowhere to go other than giant nation chains with little stores in our area. When the owner of the plaza came to Calamis at the original location in the Bronx, the company was willing to give it a shot. They, “tried to become a staple of the community,” Calamis reminisces. He said that they wanted to bring a store that had a little bit of everything, that could be a location that Brewster residents could fall back upon.
Value Village opened its doors in May of 2002, the theater coming to life September of that year. It was a place where you could get photos developed, pick up a card, grab a balloon, or purchase a tiny spatula, if that’s what was needed. It was meant to have a pharmacy to start with as well, there were complications due to the preexisting pharmacy in the plaza. This store quickly became a recognized and reliable place for anyone in the area to stop by and find a last minute forgotten item or to shop for things they had no idea they even knew were needed. It tried desperately to keep up with the constantly changing times by the assortment of toys and food, and always selling the necessary seasonal items.
Calamis explained how he would sponsor the local little league, help out the B.C.S.D. P.T.A., would donate to the Putnam C.A.P., and supply lights to the Putnam Lake holiday parade. Value Village was intended to be more than a corporation, he wanted it to truly be part of the community that gave back as much as it received.
Despite the company’s best efforts, the times changed too drastically, and COVID exposed how aged it had truly become. The closure of Empire Cinemas was the first real blow. And when it didn’t reopen in 2021 with the rest of the theaters in the world, Value Village began to hold its breath. The theater was owned by a separate person, so there was nothing the business could do. A pipe also burst last winter, ruining much of the equipment and many seats, meaning the owner would’ve had to do even more if they wanted to reopen, which they were clearly hesitant on.
Unfortunately, this enterprise is not nearly alone in its fight against the growing commercial monsters of the world. Amazon was the final blow to Value Village. During the pandemic, people became more comfortable with having things delivered to their houses than going out to find them themselves. It is completely understandable, but it became a routine. Our boss watched as fewer and fewer people strolled through the doors each day, and as more and more smiling boxes were left on doorsteps.
So, for now, that space in the center of town will sit empty, and we will have to hope that whatever moves in is able to hold half the influential role in the community as Value Village once did.