Shalom Shop hits the big 4-0

The Shalom Shop, which currently occupies the former Fleet Supply building on the east side of Cambridge, will celebrate its 40th anniversary the first week of November, featuring daily drawings for in-store gift certificates.

Forty years ago, a handful of Cambridge Lutheran Church women saw a need in the community for good-quality, affordable used clothing. The result? Shalom Thrift Shop, operating out of the basement of their church parsonage. 

Those civic-minded pioneers had no idea how big that good idea would become. 

By 1991, just 10 years after its creation, Shalom’s support of charitable causes in the community had totaled $210,000. Today, after decades of steady growth and four store relocations, Shalom’s 40-year giving total to partner churches and organizations is on pace to top $3.7 million.

Change has certainly happened over those years, says Shalom board president Karen Anderson. “We’ve progressed from the parsonage to a house on Ashland, to a former shoe store, to the former Ben Franklin, and finally to our own 24,600-square-foot building. The original founding staff of 19 has grown to where we now have 170 dedicated volunteers handling mountains of donations, keeping the store clean and displaying new merchandise every day. And thanks to a steady flow of donations from a very supportive community, we offer so much more than clothing. Now customers choose from affordable housewares, linens, home décor, toys, sporting goods, books and a whole lot more.” 

Yet, says Anderson, some things won’t change at Shalom. “We are still an all-volunteer organization,” says Anderson. “We still offer clean, quality merchandise at affordable prices. And all profits still go to the community through our partner churches and organizations who help people with food, shelter, clothing and counseling.”

Community needs never seem to change … or diminish. “You’d be surprised how many people – including children – enter shelter without a winter coat during winter months,” says Mary Westlund, executive director, New Pathways, one of Shalom’s partner organizations. “Having consistent, monthly support has sustained us. And during difficult times, the Shalom Shop has saved us and given us the support we needed to continue programming. The Shalom Shop and all their volunteers are our angels; they look out for us, they bless us.”

 “None of Shalom’s success could have been possible without the support of a loyal and generous community,” says Anderson. “To celebrate our first 40 years and our community, we will have drawings daily during the first week in November for in-store gift certificates.

“Those certificates might come in handy the following Saturday (Nov. 13) during our most-anticipated event of the year – the opening of Christmas merchandise sales. Again, thanks to our community we have more amazing Christmas merchandise this year than ever.”

She adds: “Our commitment to meet needs in Isanti County and the surrounding area continues to honor the mission statement of Shalom’s founders: ‘Because we believe God has blessed us with many gifts to share, we do this as an expression of our Christian love for our neighbors.’”

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