The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store opened on Main Street in Merrill on Aug. 4, 2003.
Over the past 10 years, the store has served as a source of revenue for St. Vincent de Paul’s local efforts to help those in need. To date, St. Vincent de Paul has distributed more than $676,000 back to the Merrill area, and given families over $42,000 in goods from the Thrift Store.
As the Thrift Store celebrated its 10th anniversary, manager Cathy Kleinschmidt reflected on the store’s purpose in the community.
“We felt it was important at 10 years for us to step back and take a look at what we’ve done,” Kleinschmidt said. “We are a business on Main Street, valued for what we bring to the community. But, we go a little bit deeper in what our mission is; we do more than just give people a place to shop.”
As the store was set to open in 2003, many of the founding members wondered whether they would ever be able to fill the former Shorts 5 & 10 store. They needed have worried, as the community responded with a flood of donations.
With a small paid staff and a dedicated group of volunteers, the Thrift Store has made gains to fulfill St. Vincent de Paul’s mission in Merrill. In the early years, the store provided less than half of what the outreach program needed in funding; now the thrift store is able to account for 60-80 percent of the assistance program’s needs.
Quoting Biblical passages inspiring empathy for the poor, Sister Jean Marie of the Merrill St. Vincent de Paul council said the store has been a blessing to Merrill for 10 years.
“A blessing is a good wish,” she said, “and my wish is to keep it up.”