SHOREVIEW — A vacant dentist office that has been closed for nearly 15 years in the Shoreview Village Mall is now the home of the Overflow Community Thrift Store, a nonprofit founded by Cathy Oestreich and Cinthia Velasquez.
“Both of us work in the schools as paras in special education, and we both have experience in working in thrift stores for job training people with special needs,” Oestreich said. “When everything was closing due to COVID, we just said we loved both things — the passion of working in the store and we loved working with that population — and we did it.”
Velasquez said they thought the empty space in the Shoreview Village Mall would be a great place to fulfill their aspirations of a thrift store for the community and knew they were compatible business partners.
“We began during the worst of the shutdown in November 2020, and used the shed in the back of the store as a drop-off location (open 24/7) because it was convenient for people and a non-contact way for people to drop off their donations,” Oestreich said.
Eventually, there was an overflow of donations. Oestreich said they needed to expand to accommodate more items, and ended up acquiring additional space in the mall.
“Overflow is not just about stuff, it's about interflowing into the community,” Oestreich said.
Velasquez added, “It's not about business, it's about community.”
The Overflow Community Thrift Store takes donations of clothes, household items, books, Christmas decorations, crafts and other items, but not furniture. Oestreich said items are gently used and people get low-cost, beautiful goods.
Oestreich said that within the thrift store’s mission statement is providing support employment and volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities.
“We want to stress that they would come with a job coach, and we want to help people with disabilities feel like they are useful, valuable and have a purpose,” Oestreich said. “It's amazing to watch community happen between people here and how connections are made here.”
Velasquez said she wants the public to know about the Overflow Community Thrift Store and they can drop off items they no longer need, want or have room for. “They can help us, and we can help them.”
“Everyone everywhere is looking for community,” Oestreich said. “This is a place where you're not going through just a checkout line, but you're having a conversation, and we know many of our customers by name.”
Velasquez said a lot of people who come into the store don't call it a thrift store but a boutique. Oestreich added, “Some people call it therapy.”
According to Oestreich, the nonprofit donates to other groups including schools, an autism program and the Salvation Army, which receive items the thrift store doesn't have room for.
“The point of this was our passion for this, and this is truly our baby,” Velasquez said. “We really like working together and we have a common purpose,” Oestreich noted.
The Overflow Community Thrift Store is located at Shoreview Village Mall, 1069 Highway 96, in Shoreview. Hours are 1:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, 10:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Noelle Olson is a staff writer for Press Publications. She can be reached at email@example.com or 651-407-1229.