Located up a snowy incline in a mixed use neighborhood, my Prius said, " You don't expect me to make it up that hill do you?" Determined to get to my second thrift store interview but playing it safe, I parked at the bottom of the hill and trudged upwards. A very colorful sign with a handprint in the middle, country music melodies and a warm welcome were my first impressions of 2nd Hand Blessings.
Four years ago Crystal O'Brien opened the thrift shop as a service to the community and to provide work opportunities for disabled or underserved adults. 2nd Hand Blessings' mission is personal for Crystal. Forty-six years ago Celinda, the little sister she prayed for, was born but soon afterwards her family realized the baby would need a lifetime of special care. The Doctors' said her sister wouldn't be able to do much in life but Crystal never accepted that verdict. With persistence, patience and love Crystal has helped her sister live a meaningful life.
The day I visited I met 7 of the 15 workers she employs plus one volunteer. They all seemed to be part of a well oiled machine getting the work done while having fun! I wanted to include each of them in the Life Ring so I asked them what their favorite color was.... Crystal- olive green, Ebony-soft pink, Dee-neon green, Kathy- dark purple, Debbie- light purple, Penny- blue, Chris- hot pink, Thea- bright purple. With my color scheme now established, I spent the next hour looking throughout the store for the right colors and fabrics. I found everything I needed plus a few extras for myself all for the low, low price of $15! What a deal, what a team, what a mission!
PS-There was one staff member that wasn't at work that day. One that I wish I could've met....Celinda, the one that wasn't supposed to accomplish much in her life.
Love was in the air Wednesday February 10th as I made my way from Ucross to Sheridan Wyoming . I was headed to Urban Thrift to meet and interview manager, Jenny Tribley. Valentine's Day was right around the corner and Main Street shops were wearing their hearts on their windows.
Every thrift has a different vibe. Some are well organized but unimaginative. Some are unorganized but delightfully quirky. When I stepped into Urban Thrift, I knew I was in the well organized and inviting category. Jenny was right there to meet me. Masks on for COVID restrictions, we sat down in comfy chairs at the front of the store and began to talk. Established six years ago, the store's proceeds benefit the Hub on Smith. Formerly the Sheridan Senior Citizen center, Jenny explained that the Hub's focus is the senior population but it's also a "multi-generational center," that seeks to benefit the whole community.
When asked about Urban's mission statement and goals Jenny was quick to say, " To serve Sheridan and The Hub. To help ensure that seniors can live in their homes longer. To make people feel welcome with accessibility for all and to be a part of their life story."
COVID has changed the way we live and work. A question I have posed to people in several different professions is, "Do you think there are good things that will come out of COVID. Are there things that COVID forced us to do that we will keep doing post pandemic?" Jenny's response was, "receiving donations! In the past it was drop off. Now it's by appointment only." This new policy has resulted in an uptick in quality and a chance to make a personal connection with the people donating. Life lesson... when you have to own up to what you are dropping off you do a better job of self sorting and cleaning!
I found Jenny and all the staff to be engaged, helpful and fun. As I roamed around the store looking for textiles that would represent Urban Thrift, I kept being drawn to reds and pinks. Not my typical palette but these Life Rings aren't my story. The ring's center is a child's handstitched pillow sham representing the Hub's desire to benefit young and old not by separation but by inclusion. I also chose a red sweatshirt with the Powder Horn Country Club logo on it. People from every economic strata can do good and benefit from a classy resale shop can't they.
Maybe all that red and pink was the Valentine's Day vibe in the air but I think it was just as much the warmth and well...love I felt from a staff that cared about what they were doing, the appearance of their store. and helping their community. Thanks for your service Urban Thrift.