BARNESVILLE-The hand-painted sign next to the door says, "Thrift Store Open." What can one expect upon walking through that door?
"Expect to be amazed," nodded Debbie Kaiser. "It's not like other thrift stores."
Kaiser is the owner of Nifty Thrifty Thrift Store just east of Barnesville on Ohio 147, and she is right. This store can be likened to an old fashioned hardware store where the more one looks, the more one sees.
T-L Photo/GLYNIS VALENTI
Antiques and collectibles are everywhere throughout Nifty Thrifty, and are even used as display fixtures.
Walls are lined with shelves and racks sporting myriads of holiday decorations, mugs, tools, baskets, purses, kitchen items, baseball memorabilia, chairs, vases, throw blankets and kitchen gadgets.
Kaiser moves the aisles around regularly as new merchandise arrives. One couple looks at a washer and dryer while other shoppers peruse drum sets, golf clubs, books, videos and jewelry.
The reason there is so much paraphernalia is that Kaiser buys whole households at a time from estates, bankruptcies and foreclosures in Ohio and Pennsylvania. This is what led to the location in Barnesville. Kaiser and husband Jim were storing merchandise in their own barns at home and running out of space.
Driving past one day, Jim pointed out the buildings and half-joking, suggested she look into them.
"It was like a blessing from God. I walked in, and it was just perfect," Kaiser said. "And the building next door is just what we need for storage."
Nifty Thrifty opened in November 2009 and has done well from the beginning.
"I think in tough economic times, people can come in with just a little bit of money and go out with something that they've wanted or needed," she noted. "I've met the nicest people here, too. People walk in, and it's like seeing friends, like a big extended family."
The business is not without its dangers, and Kaiser recalled loading trailers in questionable neighborhoods after dark. She said that the worst part, really, is trying to get up and down stairs and loading up in 16 degree weather.
The flip side, however, is that it can be "like a treasure hunt," where they are in the store in the middle of the night sorting and discovering. Her customers like discovering, too, poking through antiques and collectibles or toys or lawn mowers. Most find something to carry out, and some find items-like Depression glass-that they need to complete their own collections.
The store, 62190 Bailey Road (next to the County garage on Ohio 147,) is open Wednesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Son Jimmy Leek helps Kaiser showcase items on Ebay, and she also uses Craigslist.
"It's not so much like work, if you love what you do. Doing this is like an adventure," she said.
Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.