Steeple People, the beloved nonprofit thrift store formerly at the corner of Franklin and Lyndale, gets a new life when it reopens in 2018. Their new shop, christened Old School By Steeple People, will be just a bit further down Franklin.
When the shop closed this year in March, the crew was unsure if a new location was even possible in today’s tight rental market. Their old building has since been demolished to make room for a mixed-use development.
Fortunately, they lucked out in finding a new location at 1901 Nicollet Avenue.
Being in the same area as their old space was a big win. “We feel like we’re a part of the neighborhood,” says board member Heidi Ritter. “This is our community, and we wanted to make sure we continued to support the people we were supporting at the last store. Being less than a mile away from the old location is pretty ideal for us.”
“From a business standpoint, if you go out of this area you have to develop a whole new market," Lee Carlson, president of the board, notes. "Over 50 percent of our customers live in this area.”
The new store will be about the same size as the old space, though Ritter says they’ll have a bit less room for storage. There will also be a bit more parking, with 12 spots in their lot, meters out front, and free parking along First Avenue.
The new parking situation is a great improvement, especially with so many elderly volunteers working at the store. "[The old lot] was dangerous in the winter,” says Carlson. “It was icy, and there were potholes in it.”
Parking perks aside, it's expected that many customers will simply walk to the store. “This is the most densely populated zip code in the Twin Cities,” Ritter says. The new location also continues to be on the bus line, which is also ideal.
Right now, the organization is in the buildout stage. They’ve signed a 10-year lease, and are committed to moving things along as quickly as they can. So far, they’ve replaced the transom windows, and are putting in a vestibule in the corner that will be handicap accessible. Next, they plan on adding a few walls and installing six bike racks, thanks to a matching grant from the city of Minneapolis. They hope to have everything completed by Valentine’s Day.
When Steeple People closed last spring, the board wasn’t sure if they’d be able to find a space, so very little of the old store remains. “We kept the wooden hangers, the bookends, and the cash register,” says Ritter.
Since getting the new space, the board has been hard at work collecting fixtures and other items. “We’ve got a bunch of vintage Minneapolis ephemera to put around our store,” Ritter says. They’ve also hit up the Craigslist free page and kept an eye out on curbs for items.
“We are really excited to put the store together, it's just a matter of getting it built so we can bring things in,” says Ritter.