A Wing and a Prayer

A NORTHEAST Minneapolis charity that found itself homeless last summer has finally found the site of its dreams. But its potential future neighbors are less than thrilled. The Silver Angel Thrift Store, a recent spin-off of the area's 25-year-old North East Emergency Depot (NEED), had to move out of its basement locale at Trinity United Methodist Church last year; when staffers discovered an empty hardware store on 29th and Johnson avenues, director Colleen Wellington says she thought her prayers had been answered. "The location is perfect, and we can easily afford the rent," she says.

However, Wellington and her staff quickly got wind of less than flattering rumors circulating about their store. Among the most persistent, says store manager Greg Lefebvre, is that the store "buses in black people" from North Minneapolis. "Because [Silver Angel] gives things away to people in need," he contends, "there's a certain amount of prejudice at work here."

But Bob Hollister, president of the Northeast Business Association, says that local opposition is strictly a matter of economics. "We need something that would bring in customers for existing businesses," he maintains, "something like a flower shop, or a combination shipping, cards, and gift store." Silver Angel filed for a conditional-use permit for the site last week; a required public hearing has yet to be scheduled.

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