Saturday, September 1, 2012

The (slow and painful) Birth of a Thrift Store

Once upon a time there was a nice boy from the Midwest who married a nice girl from the Midwest. Let's call him Dave and let's call her Wonder Woman. After several years of marriage (and having moved to Florida) one day Wonder Woman came home and cried "Dave, I'm going to have a thrift store" and the labor began.

This story is one of pain and hardship. Of bleeding (money, that is) and compromise. Only the brave and strong of stomach should continue. But if you dare come in you might one day cry to your spouse "I'm going to have a thrift store."

One of the boxes waiting to fill the shelves.

After you've decided that this is really what you want to do, you're going to need a space for your stuff. We found a vacant store front on a fairly busy stretch of highway called Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers Shores, FL. Sounds pretty darn sexy and exotic doesn't it. Well. . . it looks good on the letterhead.

However the condition of this space left a bit to be desired. We're a non-profit, and we looked for a place we could get into fairly inexpensively. It's about 1800 square feet and since we're not going to have racks and racks of clothes the size will do quite nicely.

Kind of squash colored wouldn't you say? Today new paint went on. No more orange.

We haven't paid for a display case yet. These were found or given to us.

We even have a little office already created. Shelving material lines the walls.

That demarcated space on the left is going to be the Dave's MidCentury Stuff area.

We had some clothing racks donated, and those two pastry displays will end up holding something less fattening.

Oh good. Glass store fronts. Something to get smashed in the next hurricane.
Here you can see a 6 pack of vintage 60s kitchen chairs and where the ceiling leaked.

I suppose it depends on how you define thrift store, but we might be more of a second hand store.
We will have the everyday, inexpensive items that you would expect to find in a thrift store, but then again we just might have things of inestimable value. Highly collectible, that is.

We've been hitting the auctions pretty hard and have amassed a pretty decent starting inventory. We also have a fourth unit in this shopping center that we're using for storage. I snuck (or is it sneaked) in and grabbed a couple of shots. When this stuff gets on the shelves I'll take more pictures. Lookie here:

We just might restore this baby. I don't know exactly what year it is, but it screams 60s to me.

A little something from the cool chair department.

Not old, but very thrift store-ish. A hall tree.

Here's a bad boy. An actual taxidermied 4 foot lake trout.

These four chairs could be Duncan Phyfe or Barney Fife. But they'll be priced right.

Who wouldn't want a lighted beer sign. Especially an old one like this.

Looks like a glass percolator, a pressure cooker, and some surprises.

Hey, you chair experts. Who is this?

Those Barney Fife chairs again.

Hmmm. It has the stopper. Hope it has the stand too.

Looks like Pyrex knockoffs. Or could it really be Pyrex?

That's been a sneak peek at the thrift store. Watch this space because . . .

We'll be right back with . . . more stuff.


  1. I know you've gone through some really rough times trying to get your store up and running, especially since you've had health issues to deal with at the same time. I'm hoping that grand opening day comes soon, and that you'll be able to put all the hardships behind you and be immensely successful. The space is a really nice size, and it's great you've had so many fixtures donated!

    There may actually be some people out there who have started a store with no pain, sweat or sacrifice, but we sure aren't those people. I definitely empathize (even though it was really my daughter and SIL who made the sacrifices in our case...selling their great mid-century home and moving into the back of the store with two toddlers for several months at first). I'm happy to say, for their sakes, that things just keep getting better, and that's my wish for you and Wonder Woman too.

    1. Thanks, Dana.

      And speaking of. Back when we were young and good looking (well, when I was young and good looking, Wonder Woman still is) we were in the nightclub business. Our first club was 3600 sq ft in a shopping center. We carved out a 20 x 20 space in a corner and that's where we lived for over a year.

      Small world.

  2. Just for the record, we started my current business with a partner interior decorator in Jan. 2011 and we both invested a lot of change and energy into getting it up and running. We are still running on the edge after spliting the partnership in January of this year and myself staying in the current space and going completely MCM. Staying true to MCM has been a good decision but the summer has been a bit brutal. I think you have the timing down to get started and I hope you kick butt! I'm going to try and get down to check you out when you get up and running.