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Thanks to volunteers Jim Sinclair, from left, Jim Mendenhall and Bob "Doc" Watson, the books at the Boys and Girls Club Thrift Store are neatly arranged by genre and alphabetically. (Pippi Mayfield/DL Newspapers)

It's all about the volunteers

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Detroit Lakes Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501 http://www.dl-online.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/5/0304/12-16-thrift-store-cmyk.jpg?itok=fFlkVgP9
Detroit Lakes Online
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It's all about the volunteers
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

When the Boys and Girls Club Thrift Store opened, there was a massive number of books and no rhyme or reason to how they were placed on the shelf.

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Thanks to three main volunteers, Bob "Doc" Watson, Jim Sinclair and Jim Mendenhall, the books are now organized by genre and alphabetically.

"This is the best job I've ever had -- I come when I want, I leave when I want, and no one tells me what to do," Sinclair said with a laugh.

Thanks to those three and many other volunteers, the thrift store keeps running. But, that doesn't mean the store isn't in need of more volunteers.

"We've been very successful and we want to keep it successful," manager Steve Larson said.

"People should volunteer; we could use them," volunteer Carol Nelson said.

The thrift store first opened in the former Lakes Laundromat building, located near Floral Impressions, and after about a year, moved to the former Ben Franklin store where it still resides. Watson started with the store when it moved.

"I like books," he said as his reason for volunteering. "I've always been interested in books and read."

It was Watson who got Sinclair and Mendenhall organizing books along side of him.

"He talked me into coming in," Sinclair said of Watson.

Watson asked him a couple times, Sinclair said, and after the third time, he couldn't say no again. So it was Sinclair that started the alphabetizing, which, he said, took a long time to straighten out.

"Doc kind of corralled me one day two years ago and here I am," Mendenhall agreed.

He added that he's retired so he didn't have a time problem with volunteering.

Nelson, who is retired also and has only been volunteering for a month, said she got involved because she "thought it would be something fun to do." And it has been.

Nelson works in back, tagging items before bringing them out to the sales floor.

"At first it was overwhelming, but now it's fun."

Mike Hiemenz got involved through the Helping Hands group in town. While the group usually helps someone in their home with a project, the group is helping at the thrift store as well.

"I do electrical," Hiemenz said. "I bring in my kit and make sure you can sell it to somebody. No use in them throwing it away if it doesn't work."

Scott Busker, who grew up in Detroit Lakes, moved away, and now is back, said the club has grown so much since he was a kid.

"I was thrilled to see what a presence it has in town. It's a great asset to the community," he said of the club in general.

Busker serves as incoming president on the thrift store board, which is separate from the club's board, because he said he felt he had some qualities to help improve revenue for the store. And improved revenue means improved programs for the kids at the club.

"We have volunteer opportunities for anybody," he said. "We can find a niche for them within the store.

"Every bit makes a difference," he said, whether it's an hour here or there or a day here and there.

It's these volunteers that do the organizing that makes everyone else's donated goods salable to the public.

"It's labor intensive," Larson said. "It takes so much time to get from the back door to the shelves to out the door."

The money the store generates and programs that money goes toward is what makes the effort worth it.

"It's good for the whole community," he said.

To help volunteer, stop in or call the thrift store at 844-6556.

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