In a little shop in Dixon, you can buy a leather jacket, a blender, a set of eight wine glasses or an oil painting by a local artist, and the money you spend goes straight to the library next door.
La Segunda Secondhand Store is located in a house between the Dixon Cooperative Market and the Embudo Valley Library. The building most recently housed a community center and, before that, the library itself. When you enter La Segunda, it still resembles the home it once was, with a kitchen stocked with secondhand dinnerware and various rooms full of toys, appliances and clothing. The thrift store opened in August 2020 as a pop-up shop, but it has since become a permanent Dixon fixture and revenue stream for the library.
Library Executive Director Rachel Exposito said the store came about during uncertain financial times for the library.
“When COVID first hit, nobody knew what to expect,” Exposito said. “Grants were put on hold, and fundraising opportunities were limited.”
The library’s then-director Felicity Fonseco looked at a library thrift store model in Capitan, New Mexico and hired Annette Maes to put it together. Exposito said she was trying to find a source of sustainable funding at a time when the library was hit hard.
“When they realized how great it was doing — Annette was making it into an amazing service for our community — we knew we had to keep it open,” Exposito said. “That’s really important for our stability as a non-profit organization.”
Exposito said the store nets about $1,000 each month for the library.
Annette Maes is La Segunda’s store manager and sole employee.
“We are very lucky to have a very generous community,” Maes said.
She said the whole thing came together because of donations, from the merchandise they sell to the notepads and calculator they use to tabulate sales.
“I’ve lived in Dixon my whole life and I’ve never seen community come together anywhere else like it does in Dixon," Maes said. "We’re helping our local economy and helping curb waste, keeping things out of landfills.”
In the back room, she and her 14 volunteers process the donations they receive. What they cannot sell in their store, they pass on to another organization to be reused or recycled. They take clothing and shoes to the S.P.O.T. in Peñasco, kitchen and household goods to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, and other items to Citizens Against Violence in Taos. They even save rags for local artists .
“We believe nothing is trash; you just have to be creative to find its place,” Maes said. “That said, we are not Dixon’s recycling center.”
Maes’s team of volunteers is made up of students, artists, teachers and retirees from Dixon or nearby. Some of them work the store, others launder clothes or haul donations elsewhere.
Susan Akins, a retired nurse who lives in Rinconada, helps to sort donations and runs the shop one day each week. She said that almost everyone who comes in remarks on how clean and organized the store is.
“Someone from L.A. said, ‘this is the best thrift store I’ve ever seen,’” Akins said.
Akins served on the library board, and she said the Embudo Valley Library goes above and beyond to help people in Dixon file taxes, fill out applications and otherwise surf the internet.
“Our library is so much more than a library,” she said. “(La Segunda) is a reliable part of the income stream.”
In addition to running La Segunda, Maes also cleans the library. She is happy to be able to work in town doing something that aids library programming while keeping junk out of the arroyos.
“My kids received so many services from the library,” Maes said. “I came to work here because I wanted to do something good for our community, and our library touched my kids in such a positive way that I wanted to give something back.”
The library offers after-school tutoring, robotics programs and an adult lecture series. In the community center next door to La Segunda, volunteers run KLDK-LP, a “low-powered radio station.” In 2015, Embudo Valley Library and Community Center was one of 10 nationwide to be recognized with a National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
Maes is happy to be able to support library services with a boutique thrift shop that, she says, has “a little bit of everything. Anybody can come in here and shop, from the poorest to people with some money.”
“We’re so proud of what Annette has done, turning it into something more than just a thrift store,” Exposito said. “It’s become a resource for the whole community, bringing her values in of not wasting anything. That to me is really special and makes the place more valuable than just as a revenue stream for the library.”