by Nathan Boddy
The Commodity Center, known as “The Commod,” may sit a bit removed from other retail establishments in Hamilton, but its location at 215 N. 6th Street in Hamilton immediately west of Washington Elementary is only one of the points that distinguish it.
The Commod opened its doors in 1965, making it perhaps the oldest thrift store in town, but it was the intention behind The Commod that was not only unique, but also prevails today. The entity was formed by a coalition of parishioners from seven local churches, who saw fit to create a place that would serve the needs of the local community. Just over two decades later in 1988, The Commod became a registered non-profit, and continues to serve the public as a non-denominational facility, bringing low cost and even free goods to those in need. Despite the fact that the building is owned by the United Methodist-American Baptist Church next door, The Commod functions with a board of directors and a small, dedicated staff.
The folks who work and volunteer at The Commod assert that they are there to provide service and assistance to the community. The provision of service, in this case, can be everything from linens and clothing to suggestions and connections to other area services such as the Bitterroot Warming Shelter. “All they have to do is be willing to walk in and ask for help and we will do it,” said one volunteer who wished to remain anonymous.
Lauri Mosbrucker is the current secretary of the board, as well as a manager-in-training for the business end. She can give examples of people they have helped get through rough times, and mentions that the numbers are on the rise due to current financial insecurities affecting the valley. Just in the last several weeks, she says, a young man showed up at their door with almost nothing.
“He was in stocking feet with no jacket. All of his clothes were completely drenched,” she says, further explaining how they were able to clothe him completely free of charge.
“He walked out of here and he was thanking us like there was no tomorrow,” she says. “He was in tears when he left.”
These are only a few examples of the tremendous acts of service that The Commod performs for the community as a part of their non-profit mandate. Still, their location far removed from the commercial corridors and immediately adjacent to a church do tend to confuse some. Mosbrucker says that she knows they could garner more attention if they were to relocate to another part of town, but says, “This is who we are. This is where our roots are and this is where we want to stay. If we moved out onto Hwy 93, I think we’d be trying to keep up with the Joneses.”
People who are aware of The Commod tend to consider it a valuable part of the community fabric, and keep in their thoughts and actions for years. As an example, DJ Sherwood at Spice of Life was kind enough to pay the registration fee for The Commod to participate in Daly Days. The Commod also receives donations, and is hoping to get enough to have a booth at the Ravalli County Fair.
Most of the donations that come to The Commod are in the form of durable goods, however, and there is very little limit as to what they can accept. They do not accept furniture, electronics, videos or building supplies. They are happy to answer people’s questions if there is any confusion, but ultimately are ready to accept anything that people could need to put them back on their feet.