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Unique items get second life at Two Rivers Thrift

by AMY QUINLIVAN
Mineral Independent | April 6, 2022 12:00 AM

St. Regis resident Becky Palmer is a thrift store queen. And any self-proclaimed penny pinching, bargain hunter can attest to how rewarding it is to find something special and give it a second life.

That’s what Palmer, her fiancé and a team of workers have done with a dilapidated cabin on a rundown property near Highway 135.

“It was a blessing that fell in my lap last October when my fiancé purchased the property, and we started cleaning it up. We wanted to do something different with the property, something that would be fun and benefit the community,” Palmer shared.

So, she combined her passion for thrifting and her marketing knowledge for resale, along with some gritty remodeling efforts, and Two Rivers Thrift was born.

She exclaimed, “I love thrift stores and rarely buy new items, so having my own thrift store has always been a dream of mine!”

But long before the cabin clean out and property overhaul took place this past year, Palmer and her fiancé, Sterling Bennet have kept busy with other entrepreneurial ventures around St. Regis. They manage three short-term vacation rentals, soon to be five, and they also operate a small cleaning crew for their rentals. They also provide residential cleaning for clients, as well as move-out cleaning and construction clean up.

When Palmer isn’t donning rubber gloves, she’s scavenging thrift stores and clothing racks, looking for her next treasures. However, she’s been a savvy seller and online shopper way before sites like Thredup and Poshmark became trendy.

“I have been reselling online for as long as I can remember. I first started selling on eBay when I was going to college in Phoenix in the late 90s and have been doing it on a regular basis for over 24 years,” recalled Palmer.

Over time this practice has fluctuated from being her main source of income, to supplementing it, or just enjoying it as a hobby.

Palmer said, “I source items to sell from thrift stores and yard sales, estate auctions, and storage auctions. I even cleaned out dozens of foreclosed homes during the 2009 housing crash down in Arizona, which resulted in having huge ongoing yard sales, and I’ve also been hired by many people to handle their estate sales.”

With her knack for business and her affection for all things second hand, when the prospect developed to purchase the lot behind the local bank, Palmer dove in.

She described, “The original log cabin on the property was built in the 20s, I believe. We haven’t done anything with it yet but want to preserve it in some way and have some fun ideas in mind. The two-story log cabin that will be the store was built in 1947.”

An old trailer house with a caved in roof was removed, and in its place, Palmer put in two fifth-wheel RVs that will also be seasonal vacation rentals.

There was a timeworn log pole barn that was carefully deconstructed and relocated to DeBorgia.

Palmer shared, “I’m eager to be able to share this property with the public and learn more about the history of it and hear some stories and memories from people of the community. A few folks have already briefly mentioned to me that they lived in the log cabin at some point of their lives, I hope those people will enjoy walking through it and seeing the changes as well as the things we preserved as much as I have enjoyed fixing it up.”

The clean-up and remodel have been especially challenging throughout the winter. They commenced last October, Palmer said.

“The property was a mess and the log cabin was extremely dirty, outdated and neglected. I am very happy with the outcome of everyone’s hard work and pleased with the changes we made. We were able to preserve a lot of the old building’s charm but decided to modernize some areas that needed it. I have done a lot of the work myself but have also had some hired help and volunteers. I am so thankful to everyone that has helped.”

With the majority of the renovations completed Palmer is hard at work organizing and arranging the inside. S

“Right now, it will be household items downstairs and clothing upstairs," she said. "We will have vintage and modern items, knick-knacks some classy, some kitschy, lots of jewelry, some tools and hardware, artwork, dishes, quirky unique items, you never know what you might find in there.”

Her objective is to offer unique and quality items to the community at a reasonable price. Palmer explained, “The upstairs will be a little bit of a clothing boutique, with affordable prices. We don’t have a lot of space so I will only be stocking really nice clean clothing, items that I hand-pick myself. A lot of my clothing and accessories inventory will come from my own personal sourcing. It definitely won’t be like your typical goodwill store with long racks of clothing, half of which are stretched out or stained.”

Two Rivers Thrift will fill a unique need in the St. Regis community, as well as provide Palmer with an outlet for something she delights in.

She noted, “I really feel that locals as well as travelers passing by will support the store.” Palmer joked, “Plus, I have an unhealthy affection for true vintage stuff and it’s been stacking up, so having a store will give me someplace to showcase my finds and share them with others.”

Most of her start up inventory will come from her own home and storage, either things that she has listed online and haven’t sold, or items that she’s picked up with the intent to sell but never got around to listing.

“Any reseller will tell you that the sourcing items to sell is so much fun, but getting those items listed is not near as much fun, so things tend to pile up into overwhelming stashes of great items which we call 'death piles,'" remarked Palmer.

But avid thrifters know that part of the thrill is the hunt, sometimes that even includes traveling many hours to find thrift stores in other parts of the state. But on a good day when you find a killer deal or rare piece it makes all the hard work worth it.

Palmer expressed, “You never know what you will find in a thrift store. It’s not your typical department store where you know what you need or want and go in to purchase it. It’s another level of shopping, where you can reasonably find something, you’ve wanted but couldn’t afford new, or a discontinued treasure you once had as a child or maybe something a relative had in their home that brings back fond memories, or that unique gift for someone you love.”

And she’ll thrift for just about anything, considering how much excess there is in American homes and society. Palmer shared, “I have always felt like there isn’t any reason to buy new clothing in this country. There’s such a surplus or perfectly good clothing available for cheap or even free. Same rule goes for almost everything in our home, furniture, dishes, pots and pans, toys, you name it and I bet I have thrifted it.”

Palmer browses through her favorite thrift stores on a regular basis, even if she’s not searching for something in particular. She admitted, “Because I don’t want to miss out on a great find, and I know I’m not the only one that feels that way.” In her experience, a well-managed thrift store has a revolving inventory so each visit you can find something different. She stated, “For me, thrifting often turns into finding my new favorite clothing item or a nostalgic adventure.”

For people wanting to donate Palmer is currently accepting clean clothing and accessories, household items and small furniture such as end tables or dressers.

She said, “I can’t take any couches, lounge chairs or beds, we simply don’t have room. I know other stores in the area have had issues with people dumping garbage so we have installed security cameras and will only be accepting donations during business hours or by appointment.”

Palmer added, “I guess I would just ask people to please not bring us broken items and make sure all electronics are in working order. And basically, to follow the golden rule of thrifting, don’t donate it if you wouldn’t buy it yourself.”

Another unique feature of the store will be the work of Palmer’s mother who just moved to St. Regis last year. “She is a seamstress, and she has even been doing some minor repairs to some clothing items for the store and we are planning to set up a sewing station for her in the backroom, so she will also be available to make alterations and repairs for people,” Palmer detailed.

Two Rivers Thrift is aiming to officially open for business the week of April 18. Seasonally the store might have varied hours.

Palmer said, “Right now, we are planning to be open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer and probably only three to four days during the winter.”

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