After years of planning and raising funds, the River House Shelter, Inc. has found a building to house a resale shop that will support its mission of providing housing for domestic violence and sexual assault victims and supporting other services offered.
Over the last several years, shelter officials have been searching for a site for a resale shop to help financially support operations and services. There was a deal to convert the former laundromat located adjacent to the Grayling Mini Mall into a store, but renovations turned out to be cost-prohibitive. Another location also fell through.
In November, the River House Shelter, Inc. purchased the building that housed the Sears store in Grayling, located at 6375 M-72 West, from owner Randy Crocker.
“It’s a perfect location and perfect size,” said Carla Ott, development director for River House Shelter, Inc. “Once we get it renovated, it’s going to great there.”
Shelter officials tried to obtain a United States Secretary of Agriculture loan for the building but learned they would need to go through conventional lending sources.
An anonymous donor provided $50,000 for a down payment on the building.
“The anonymous donor found out we needed the down payment, and so they donated specifically for that reason to get the store,” Ott said.
Shelter volunteers will make the necessary renovation to house the store and bring it up to building codes.
“It’s an older building, but overall it’s in decent shape,” Ott said.
The thrift store committee’s next meeting, scheduled to be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, will be work and clean-up day at the store.
Items currently stored in the shelter’s basement will be moved to the store. Other goods, which have been kept in storage units, are already in the store.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys that are coming over to help us. We have a basement full of stuff that can go over there,” Ott said. “Basically, we going to get it cleaned up so we know where we’re going from there.”
The tentative opening of the store is scheduled between March and April if all goes as planned.
“The fact that we have a building now is incredible and we’re very excited because we’ve been working on this for a long time,” Ott said.
Clients who seek housing and services from the shelter can obtain vouchers to get items at the store.
“We will hold basic essentials here, but if they’re going to be moving out to their own place, there may be furniture over there for them, basic kitchen utensils, things like that,” Ott said.
The goal of the store is to make it and the shelter, which relies on government grants and donations, self-sufficient.
The store will have a manager and will rely on volunteers.
The store is working in collaboration with St. Francis Thrift Store located nearby on the voucher system.
“If we don’t have something they may need, they may have it,” Ott said.
Both stores will bring people into the community for those who like to make a day of finding bargains as thrift stores.
“With thrift stores, there’s kind of a thrift store circuit,” Ott said. “People that go to them go through the circuit, so being near them will bring customers into both businesses as well.”