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Bob Fary and Alan Berg at the Kiwanis West

Kiwanis Goes West

Thrift store's move protects its charitable giving.

by Catherine Zudak

From the November, 2017 issue

After more than fifty years at 200 S. First, the Kiwanis Thrift Sale is moving all its operations to N. Staebler Rd. off Jackson Ave. in Scio Twp.

Sherry Springer, one of the longest-serving members, oversaw the purchase of the downtown building in 1966 when he was club president.

"We didn't have a building, you know," Springer recalls. "The sale started as an annual three-day rummage sale around the holidays. It grew from there."

The thrift sale outgrew the First St. building's 11,200 square feet in the early 2000s. "We've needed greater floor space for storage and handling of merchandise for years," says incoming club treasurer Greg Meisner.

For several years, Kiwanis used donated space near the Ann Arbor Airport for overflow and larger items. When that was no longer available, the club bought the 123,000-square-foot building on Staebler from Sheridan Books in 2014. At first, Sheridan stayed on as a tenant--but when the book manufacturer consolidated operations in Chelsea at the end of 2015, the mortgage threatened to swallow up much of the club's $250,000 a year in charitable donations.

This February, members voted to explore the sale or lease of the First St. property to reduce debt. Adding to the sense of urgency, Springer says, were the city's plans to repair curbs and sidewalks on Washington St., closing one lane of traffic. That would block access for their truck, and hinder drop-off donations.

The downtown location was slated to close October 21. The Staebler Rd. center is open Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., for purchases and donations.

The west-side site includes 7.2 acres of woods and wetlands, and the club is working with Scio Township to protect it. Meisner says the group hopes the Kiwanis Educational Preserve will host environmental education trips for schoolchildren.

Meisner says it is too soon to gauge the impact of closing the downtown store. With ample free parking on Staebler Rd., a lot of customers and volunteers had already gravitated there.

"We're closer to Dexter, so we are seeing more people from there," he says. "But we'll know more about who is coming once we get a chance to settle in."

Kiwanis Thrift Sale West, 100 N. Staebler Rd. 665-0450. Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.     (end of article)

[Originally published in November, 2017.]


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