Mass Discount Center relocates to Athol following flooding in Leominster

Bedroom and living room furnishings are among the wide array of items for sale at Mass Discount Center, located at 500 Main St., Athol. Formerly in Leominster, the business relocated after last September’s massive flooding.

Bedroom and living room furnishings are among the wide array of items for sale at Mass Discount Center, located at 500 Main St., Athol. Formerly in Leominster, the business relocated after last September’s massive flooding. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

Heather Dinitto, owner of Mass Discount Center, takes a break from setting up her new store at 500 Main St., Athol. Opened since early January, she said the business has been welcomed by the community.

Heather Dinitto, owner of Mass Discount Center, takes a break from setting up her new store at 500 Main St., Athol. Opened since early January, she said the business has been welcomed by the community. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 03-08-2024 5:00 PM

ATHOL – If Heather Dinitto has her way, the debut of Mass Discount Center, located at 500 Main St., will mark just the first of what she hopes will be several locations.

Dinitto and her husband, Walter Ferreira, hadn’t planned on locating the store in Athol. Mass Discount, which opened in early January, had been doing good business in Leominster for several years, until the city was struck by catastrophic flooding last September.

“We were in the Tilton-Cook Building, where the roof collapsed,” she explained. “It was all over the news. Where we were located in the building was ‘ground zero.’ So, we had to move. We wanted to get it up and running. But when we started looking there was nothing available in that area, at least not in our budget.”

Dinitto said she had seen 500 Main St. in several online real estate listings and decided to check it out.

The move from Leominster to Athol has been challenging, said Dinitto. They work “eight days a week,” and the cost for the move came to around $20,000.

“It was scary making that move because it’s a completely different demographic here than in Leominster,” she said. “But the people here have been very nice.”

The response from the community, she said, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Every day people come in and they say, ‘wow. I love your store. This is amazing. And this is what Athol has been needing for a long time,’” Dinitto said. “I hear it every day, and I’m blessed to hear that. People are coming in and they’re purchasing everything I sell.”

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Walking into the store, one might get the impression that they’re entering a furniture store. Yet, while there are plenty of furnishings to choose from, a quick tour of the large retail space reveals a wide variety of items – from living room sets to vintage vinyl records, from appliances to books and more. Some of the stock is from their previous location, but new items will be arriving soon.

“I have three pallets right now that I have to unload that are full of bicycles, children’s bikes, scooters,” she said.

Dinitto expects furniture and appliances to be her biggest sellers. The store used to sell tools, but found them a challenge to get and sometimes overpriced They also carry décor items, which have proven very popular. Dinitto said she is asked every single day if they takes donations or does consignment. The answer to both of those is “no.”

“I like a variety, and people come and say, ‘that’s exactly what I was looking for and you had it,’” she said.

Dinitto said that she started the store in 2018 in remembrance of her brother Gary, described as “an avid bargain shopper.” Gary passed away earlier that year.

“He’d come home and say, ‘You should see the deal I got today,’” she said. “He’d go to all the flea markets, and he was an avid comic book collector; that was his passion. So, we just kind of started the store in his memory.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.