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Boreal Community Media

Grand Marais's First and Second Thrift Store searching for new location after building sale

Oct 17, 2022 09:45AM ● By Content Editor

Photo provided

By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media - October 17, 2022

In 2007, Lois Johnson, Arvis Thompson, and Sharon Bloomquist set out to open a thrift store to keep items out of landfills, provide community members access to affordable goods, and support the local community by giving back through donations. 

Since then, First and Second Thrift Store has donated $840,000 to local organizations ($111,000 alone in 2021), and that number does not include 2022 amounts. 

Currently, the all-volunteer-run non-profit organization is housed in the Cobblestone Building off Highway 61 in west Grand Marais, but that will soon change. 

The statuses of the Cobblestone Building businesses

On September 15, 2022, the Cobblestone Building was sold to Voyageur Brewing Company. Around the time of the sale, the building housed Cook County businesses Almost Home Appliances, First and Second Thrift Store, Two Birds Healing Arts Center, and Studio 61 Hair Design

At the time of this posting, Almost Home Appliances already moved out and into a new location off Highway 61 on the east side of Grand Marais (615 East Hwy 61, Grand Marais, MN). 

As for the other businesses, Boreal Community Media reached out to Two Birds Healing Arts Center and learned that the small business will stay put. 

According to Melanie Eldridgel, co-owner and operator of Two Birds Healing Arts Center, “we are so happy to have a few years left on our lease agreement with an option to renew, so hopefully will be there for eight or so more years.”

Boreal attempted to reach Studio 61 Hair Design but was not able to get in touch with anyone in time for the article posting. 

However, Boreal did speak with Mike Prom, owner of Voyageur Brewing Company, who confirmed that both Two Birds Healing Arts Center and Studio 61 Hair Design will continue renting their space and will experience no change. 

As for what the Brewery plans to do with the space, Prom shared that “his all happened really fast. We are using this fall to make a master plan for the space but with our growth, we will be using the space to help in our production processes.”

“We are proud to be a year-round manufacturer and food and beverage provider.  We employ over 50 people and hope the community sees the value we bring, “ he said.

Looking for a temporary and permanent space 

On Thursday, October 13, First and Second Thrift Store posted on their Facebook page that they were looking for a new space, spurring questions inquiring about a move. 

This post broke the news for many that the building had been sold. 

Boreal reached out to First and Second Thrift Store and spoke with Ann Marie Mershon, winter store manager of the store, to learn more about the organization's needs for a new space. 

“At this time, the store will stay open until December 31, 2022. Between now and then, we will be working on selling off most of our current inventory,” Mershon said. 

Store volunteers made the decision that Saturday, October 15, 2022, was the last day they could accept donations. 

“Anything that’s left after the December 31 closing date will need to be stored. Mike Prom suggested looking for a type of shipping container that is movable, so we’re not having to pack and unpack items multiple times.”

Prom confirmed that they are assisting where they can. “We value what they [First and Second Thrift Store] do,” he said. 

Mershon went on to mention that they would ideally like to find a space before the end of the year and avoid having to store items altogether. 

“Finding a place still this year would be great. There are a couple of prospects that are immediately available, but not in our price range. They may be our only option though,” she added. 

Those locations include the old Birchbark Gifts building, the Sven and Ole’s building, a space owned by Como Oil, and the Stan Bauch building on the east side of Grand Marais. 

First and Second Thrift Store is looking for a space of at least 2400 square feet, and their budget is $3,000 or under a month. They are hoping to stay in downtown Grand Marais. 

When asked what they need from the community at this point, Mershon said:

“If anyone knows of a space that can house the thrift store or a storage shipping container (or something similar), that would be really helpful.”

Additionally, between now and the end of the year, Mershon said they’ll need strong people to help pack and move items out of the Cobblestone Building. 

Unfortunately, if they can’t find a space, Mershon said the store may have to shut down for good.  

If you know of a movable storage container or a building that could house First and Second Thrift Store, contact Ann Marie Mershon at [email protected], or 218-387-2245. 

Watch for calls for volunteers on their Facebook page in the near future. 

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