By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. — The St. Vincent de Paul Store in Elizabethtown, Ky., will have a weeklong celebration June 1 to 8 to commemorate its first anniversary.
The thrift and consignment store, located at 512 N. Mulberry Street, will offer refreshments to customers and volunteers and “try to spread the word a little more,” said Judy Banks, the store’s volunteer director.
Because of limited funds, the store has not been able to advertise very much and as a result many people in town still don’t know it exists, Banks said during a recent interview.
“I hear from many people that they didn’t know we are there. We are trying to spread the word that we are here,” said Banks, a member of St. James Church.
The store, which opened its doors June 1, 2012, has been able to break even during its first year. Banks considers that a major feat since she had no prior experience in retail. When it does begin to turn a profit, all proceeds will support the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
In 1992 she retired after 27 years of service as a home economics teacher in Hardin County. Following her retirement she volunteered her time by serving as a grant writer for Habitat for
Humanity and with the woman’s club at St. James. About five years ago, she began to contemplate the idea of opening a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.
“I definitely feel I was pushed by God to do this. I really did not want to do this but I felt a call,” she said. “Each time I got backed into a corner I would go to church and pray. … It would not have happened without his direction.”
Banks said St. James Church was very supportive in the fund-raising stage before the store’s opening. St. James’ pastor, Father Charles Walker, was one of the first people to donate money.
After several setbacks including problems with the lease and nonprofit status, Banks and the committee landed upon an agreement with Catholic Charities of Louisville. The agency agreed to lease the building and in turn rent the space to the St. Vincent de Paul group.
“We never would have got it open without the help of David Dutschke (who works in housing development at Catholic Charities) and Catholic Charities,” Banks said.
Elizabethtown has several other thrift stores including ones operated by Salvation Army, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. But Banks says the St. Vincent de Paul Store is unique. The store not only accepts donations, she explained, it also has a thriving consignment business.
“Consignment helps keep the quality of products up,” she said.
The store offers a large number of items including couches, tables, decorative pillows, home decor, lamps, books, toys and children’s items. It does not accept clothing consignments.
Donations are always welcome, Banks noted. Items that sell particularly well are couches, end tables, dining tables and chairs. All donated items are tax deductible.
In the last six months, Banks has turned over much of the day-to-day operations to the store’s part-time employees — co-director Dan Petrey and bookkeeper Diane Guilmet.
Banks said that while business is steady and the non-profit store is contributing to the outreach efforts of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Elizabethtown, she would like to see it grow.
“The goal is to make more money to help the poor in our community,” she said.
Besides the two paid part-time staff members, the store is largely run by about 50 volunteers, many of whom are in their late 70s and early 80s. Banks said additional volunteers are always appreciated. At least three people are needed to run the 6,000-square-foot store on any given day.
The St. Vincent de Paul Store is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To volunteer or for more information about the store call 270-360-0200.