For Farmington couple, thrift shop is a labor of loveKelly Campbell and Chris Hames have been working for months to prepare Razberry Beret, the thrift store they are opening in Farmington. The new business will send some of its profits to the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
There is a lesson about starting a business that likely isn’t covered in any textbooks, but that is important nonetheless. Given the choice, the wisdom goes, it’s probably not a good idea not to name your secondhand store after the evil clown that terrorizes children in a Stephen King novel.
Kelly Campbell and Chris Hames came to that conclusion early on as they looked for a name for the secondhand store they plan to open June 4. The voting was close in an online competition to name the store until someone pointed out that one of the options, Penny Wise, also happened to be the villain from the King novel It. After that, it was pretty much a landslide for Razberry Berret, a name that has a significantly less sinister origin in a Prince song.
It’s just one of many things that has fallen into place for the Farmington couple, dating back to 2010, when Campbell was laid off.
A lost job isn’t often considered a good thing, but in this case it seems to be working out.
Campbell had worked in property management for 30 years when she lost her job. She started looking for something else right away, and she had a few offers. But nothing paid nearly as much as she had been making. So, Campbell took a summer off — she learned to garden, made raspberry jam — and started thinking about all the times she and her relatives had talked about opening a thrift store.
“Our family, from since I was little, fixed up furniture,” Campbell said. “We go to antique shops, thrift stores, garage sales. My mom is the biggest garage saler on earth. That’s how we grew up.”
Campbell and Hames started putting together their business plan in January. They found financing in February, and they’ve been working long days ever since to turn a former daycare space into the store they imagined.
They also formed a partnership with the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. Campbell and Hames knew early on they wanted their store to help people, and Campbell’s years in property management had brought her into contact with many people who were just a missed paycheck or two from being out on the street.
“I really wanted to be able to help,” Campbell said.
The coalition jumped on board even before Campbell and Hames had started transforming their space. In the beginning, proceeds from Razberry Beret will help fund a website the coalition is developing to direct homeless people to resources near them. The site is scheduled to launch in August.
Coalition for the Homeless executive director Liz Kuoppala said Razberry Beret came along at just the right time.
“It can fund a real project that will do real good in people’s lives,” she said.
There are other plans to make a difference, too. Campbell would like to sponsor a homeless family once a month or once a year and provide them with clothing or other items they need. She has talked about partnering with other local businesses to, for example, get someone a suit and a haircut so they can get ready for a job interview.
Getting everything ready has taken a lot of hard work and long days. Campbell and Hames have been working 15 hours most days, but they don’t seem to mind too much. They like the idea that they’re creating something for themselves. That feeling gets even stronger as the business gets closer to finished. They got the lights on for the first time last week, and plumbing was supposed to be done by Tuesday.
They have found plenty of support from friends and family. Donations have come quickly since they announced their plans.
“We have a 2 1/2-car garage we can’t park in,” Campbell said. “It’s amazing how many people have things they want to donate.”
It’s just one more thing that has fallen into place.