Thrift store trying to stay alive
Gertrude "Gerdie" Krogstad remembers a time when she and the thrift store she helps run were so successful they were able to give money away to several charities throughout the Detroit Lakes community.
"I think we were able to help like seven or eight organizations every year," Krogstad said.
Things have changed at the Adventist Community Services, though, as business there is barely enough to keep them open.
"We don't make enough money for anything other than to keep us up and running," said Krogstad, who has been running the store for 30 years.
She says there are two reasons for that -- the Boys and Girls Club Thrift Store opening up, and the highway 10 project.
"We used to be located over on Summit Avenue across from ACS, and when they put the highway there it was easy for people to get in, but they'd sit there for 15 minutes before being able to get back out again."
The store moved last June into a location right next to the Seventh-day Adventist Christian Church and School on Richwood Road.
Krogstad says even though they are not making money anymore, they stay open because they want to continue meeting the needs of low-income people.
Thousands of area people in need are referred to the store every year from organizations such as the Lakes Crisis Center, Becker County Human Services, Lutheran Social Services, and Mahube.
"They come in here with a referral stating what it is they need, and we help them find something that they can take for free," Krogstad said.
There are 13 community members donating their time to this labor of love, and Krogstad says even though times are slower, it's a good feeling when they help the people who need it most.
"Maybe they have just moved into the area or have just come through an abuse situation and have lost everything. Maybe they don't have any furniture; they need clothes or household things. That's where we come in."
Right now donations are about right for the amount of people the store serves, but Krogstad says when they get a little piled up, they simply bag things up and donate them to disabled veterans.
"Everything that comes in is sorted and sometimes washed. Nothing here is wasted," Krogstad said.
Walk around the store and you will find rows upon rows of clothes, shoes, books, toys, electronics, knick-knacks, and even formal dresses (which were priced at $4 to $6).
"I just had a gal come in here to get some dresses for high school girls who cannot afford to buy a dress for prom," says Krogstad, adding, "they've never even been worn."
Although donations remain steady at the store, they are always in need of more men's and boy's clothes.
"With tougher times and jeans prices going up, I think they tend to wear their stuff longer until it's worn out," said Krogstad.
Krogstad and her staff of volunteers (including her 85-year-old husband, Girgil) are hoping to somehow get the thrift store built back up to be profitable again.
"We'd love to be able to start giving to charities like we used to," said Krogstad.
With twinkling blue eyes and a warm smile, she adds, "I just feel like the Lord has been very good to us."
The store is open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.
If you'd like to donate or find out more about Adventist Community Services, call 847-0067.