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.
A few weeks ago I had a Zoom interview with Kasey from the Laramie County Library. Kasey was gathering information for a blog post she would write about my library exhibition, Textile Stories. She did a great job capturing what the exhibit portrays and how it seamlessly connects with what the library is all about. Read the selected passages below and you'll want to follow the link and read the whole post! I've said it before and I'll say it again.... Cheyenne has a great library!
"Choosing textiles as her medium is what makes Rowswell’s art so unique, and so layered with meaning. The materials themselves are woven with stories, stories of how the piece of clothing came to Rowswell and stories of who made the piece of clothing to begin with.
The idea of knowing someone’s story, gathering information about their background and investing time and effort in learning more about them fits perfectly within the confines of a library, a place dedicated to the continual pursuit of knowledge and the dissemination of stories. Like Rowswell’s exhibit, the library harbors personal stories, local stories, universal stories, and global stories."
“I love a good charity shop, especially when I’m travelling. When I’m going to cold places, I take nothing — just underwear. On my way from the airport, I ask the driver to take me to a good charity shop, and I buy boots, socks, trousers, jumpers, sweaters, hats and scarves — usually for £30 … (about $40 US ) On the way back to the airport, I have it all in a big bag and drop it off at another charity shop.” —Helen Mirren The Sunday Express, August 2010
This is my kind of woman! I also love to head to "charity" or thrift shops when I travel. They're like archeological digs. They give you clues to the region you are visiting and you never know what treasures you'll find for mere pennies or shillings!
Thrifts are my primary "art supply" stores. They are bursting with the colors, textures and patterns I need to create my work. I started the Thrift Life Ring Series as a way to delve deeper into the stories, the people and the missions connected to individual shops. Research, interviews and the textiles purchased from each store layer together to tell stories through textiles. To date I have made Rings for three thrift stores. They are currently on exhibition at the Laramie County Library till February 14th 2021. Stay tuned for details on each!