Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 25, 2013

A deposit on Earth, community

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Just a few minutes after the Good Neighbor Redemption Center opened for business on Thursday, a man pulled into the parking lot in his car.

Before he had stepped out of the vehicle, one of Good Neighbor’s owners had walked outside to greet the man and to help him bring two bags of empty bottles inside.

He was inside less than three minutes and walked away with $5.50 for 110 cans and bottles.

“Thanks for bringing them here,” said one of the owners as the man walked out.

The owners of Good Neighbor, located at 221 Walnut St., across from Harrison Place, wish to remain anonymous.

“Our main goal is to help clean up the earth,” said one, downplaying the roles he and his partner have. “Reduce, reuse, recycle.”

While Good Neighbor isn’t the only business that specializes in paying cash for any can or bottle with a New York state 5-cent deposit — Fast Cash is on Transit Road and Niagara County Bottle Redemption is in Wrights Corners — it is the only one within the city limits, they point out, adding they don’t consider the others competition.

The duo picked their location based on that fact, and proximity to potential customers. For these owners, helping the community is also important.

“A lot of people don’t want to drive on Transit,” they noted. “There are also many who don’t have a car, so it’s a convenience issue.”

People who don’t have a means of transportation may decide to forego the nickel deposit and simply toss their bottles and cans in the garbage, they explained.

“We’re an alternative for people who can’t get to the stores,” they said. “We’re helping the residents, and we’re helping the city by investing in the ‘impact zone,” referring to the neighborhood just south of downtown that’s been targeted by the city for a crackdown on nuisances to quality of life.

In addition, the redemption center currently has a list of about 30 organizations to which customers may donate their cash. The center will contribute an additional penny for every bottle or can donated to any of the charities and not-for-profits to which donations are made.

Some of those groups, such as Refugee Temple of Christ, have posters displayed on the walls of the center, which is inside the former home of Sub Delicious.

“Customers have come in, then see a (charity) poster on the wall and say, ‘give it to these guys,’ “ one of the owners said, adding it’s easy for any charitable group to sign on with them.

There’s no limit on the number of charities they’ll help out, they added.

For some customers, they themselves are the charity.

“We had someone come in with $1.85 in bottles and said he’s getting his financial life back together,” one of the owners said. “We understand that. We’re scraping by, too.”

Good Neighbor is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is closed on Sundays and holidays.