I’ve always loved thrift shops but the Seventh Day Adventist Thrift Store in Rhinelander holds a special place in my heart.
Admittedly I consider all thrift shops bargain havens. In fact, if truth be told, almost all my kitchen utensils, pots and pans, mugs and silverware have come from one of these places during the years, not to mention a good portion of my wardrobe.
However, the fact that this particular shop is right next door to the Star Journal office has made it a favorite, and easy, haunt during my breaks at work. The first time I visited there I knew it was my kind of place. The building was old and dated, even sort of shabby, but the merchandise was always so attractively displayed and of course continually changing. But as time has revealed, this little shop has became more than just a place to nonchalantly visit.
That’s because the dedicated volunteers who work here have become some of my closest friends. Take for instance my buddy, Paul. He’s usually the guy behind the checkout counter although he’s also good at sorting hangers and other odd jobs. Our friendship started off with friendly conversations about the weather however it wasn’t long before we were solving the world’s problems and going into more in-depth topics. We always found something to laugh about and my steps were a little lighter heading back to work.
Then one day I walked in and Sylvia Schave was busy putting tags on the merchandise. Sylvia works tirelessly getting donated items ready for display whether that means repairing a rip, steaming out wrinkles or sorting. Sylvia loves this work and it shows, but she’s also one of those people you instantly like and it wasn’t long before all three of us were solving the world’s problems.
As time went on I came to know Sylvia’s husband, Tyrone, who is an avid gardener like me, and then Mary Perlberg, who manages the store. All new friends, all met on short breaks from my computer.
So you can imagine my dismay when last July they told me the store was closing for extensive remodeling. While I knew the place needed it, I was distraught that my friends wouldn’t be just a stroll away. I did take solace though, that the little store would open in a few short months. But as construction jobs usually go, months turned into more months and when I would walk past the place I’d pressed my face against the window to check on the progress, wondering when my friends would be back.
I am happy to report that wait is over. During the last few weeks, all the little odds and ends of a remodeling project have come to a close and once again the little shop is filling up with racks of donated clothing and other merchandise. Paul, Sylvia, Tyrone, Mary and her husband, Dave, are working many hours so they will be ready this Monday, Feb. 3 when they officially open in their new and beautiful spot.
Aside from the last six months, the Seventh Day Adventist Store has been part of the Rhinelander community since 1986. Most of the merchandise is lightly-used clothing but there are lots of other interesting items as well from kitchen utensils, to gadgets, to toys, to artwork, jewelry and much more. The money that’s raised here goes to needy people in the community upon referrals from social services and other agencies, which makes you feel good when you find a bargain and decide to take it home.
Last week, when I saw all the hub-bub going on next door, I strolled over and was so happy to see all my friends again. And they were happy to be getting ready for the store to open. As only really good friends can do, we picked up right where we left off; chatting about what we had been up to and what plans lay ahead. Like so many times before, we got to talking about favorite recipes and Mary presented me with a vegetarian cookbook. She even made me some vegetarian meatballs which were out of this world and with her permission, I’ve included that recipe for this week.
So the next time you are visiting the beautiful downtown Rhinelander area, pop in and say “hi” to the friendly folks at this thrift shop. No doubt you’ll not only walk away with a good bargain, but with a new friend too.
¾ cup cracker crumbs crushed fine
½ cup pecan meal
1 small onion, diced
½ cup grated cheese
3 eggs, beaten
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. parsley (fresh or dried)
10 oz. grape jelly
12 oz. chili sauce
Mix all ingredients together and roll into balls. Dip in flour and then lightly brown in olive oil. Place in a dish. For the sauce mix the jelly and chili sauce and heat until jelly is dissolved. Pour over meatballs and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly.