Steeple People returns to open ‘Old School’ at 19th & Nicollet

Anne Lippin (l) and Heidi Ritter, board members of Old School by Steeple People.

When the Steeple People thrift store shut its doors last March at Franklin & Lyndale, three volunteers (Julia Curran, Anne Lippin and Heidi Ritter) couldn’t stand the idea that it would close forever.

“We can’t let this die,” Lippin said. “What can we do so this can survive? Because it’s not just a thrift store.”

They decided to continue pushing for a new space and continue refining the business plan to make it viable. The effort paid off, and they landed in a remodeled building at 1901 Nicollet Ave. that’s nearly the same size as the old store. Now called Old School by Steeple People, the store is aiming for a mid-February opening date.

“Over 100 volunteers are ready to go,” Ritter said.

The store isn’t accepting donations yet, but a stockpile is ready. Ritter said they cleaned out store fixtures at the shuttered downtown Macy’s department store — even taking a vintage stepladder — and shopped the free pages on Craigslist.* The cash register will sit on an old church pulpit, and some of the display cabinets came from the Roseville Historical Society.

The nonprofit is an outgrowth of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, although the store draws volunteers from across the community. Board members were grateful to find a new spot near the old store, as half of the customers come from the neighborhood, said Board President Lee Carlson.

Steeple People 2

“We’ve always believed that Steeple People is more than a thrift store,” Lippin said. “It’s integral as a community builder.”

Steeple People was founded in 1979, and it closed to make way for a new development with apartments and retail.

*Corrected to reference store fixtures