Lifeline will close its charity stores in Katoomba, Springwood and Penrith by the end of July, angering some volunteers and customers.
Blue Mountains residents Ruth Smithers and Barbara Woolley have volunteered at Lifeline’s Springwood store for 18 years and said customers have reacted with disbelief when they were informed of the impending closures.
“We were hoping to get our 20 years up,” said Mrs Smithers.
“Once we got over the shock [of the announcement] we started getting angry.”
Central Coast resident James Uebel, who shops at the charity stores regularly when he visits the Blue Mountains, said he was “horrified” when he heard the news.
“It’s part of the experience of going to the Mountains,” he said.
But Lifeline Macarthur Chief Executive Officer Peter Mihajlovic said it was “with much sadness” that the closures were announced.
“Our wonderful staff and volunteers have worked extremely hard,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the extreme pressures that have been brought to bear on the retail industry over recent years has rendered the shops unviable. The current retail climate has obviously affected us as much as mainstream retailers.
“These shops have been part of the community for over 10 years and the decision to close them has not been taken lightly. We just cannot justify the continued outlay of limited resources. The reason Lifeline Macarthur exists is to provide Telephone Crisis Supporters on the 13 1114 service and our shops provide us with income to fund this essential service. We cannot sacrifice the training of future Telephone Crisis Supporters just to keep the shops open.”
Mr Mihajlovic said the shops would close by the end of July.
“In between time, the shop leases would be offered to other local charities to take over and we sincerely hope that happens,” he said.
“Otherwise, there will be a closing down sale during the month of July.”