A garage sale you can shop all year round
Kathleen Haskell knows what it's like to need a helping hand. It wasn't all that long ago she was the one looking for assistance. A business partnership had gone bad, she said, and her family lost nearly everything. They were living out of a camper, taking help where they could get it, and Haskell knew that when she was back on her feet she would do something to give back everything she has gotten.
When the family recovered, they held a number of fundraisers for local ministries, but it was always the garage sales that brought in the most.
That is part of the story behind Garage Sale Outlet, the thrift store Haskell and her family opened last month in Rosemount. The other part grew out of a ministry Haskell's husband started to counsel Dakota County Jail inmates who are struggling with addiction. One night, one of the former inmates called her husband at home. He had found a good job, but he hadn't yet collected his first paycheck. His family needed some personal care items, and he said either they would have to go without - not an option in his mind - or he was going to shoplift the things he needed.
Haskell's husband presented a third option. Haskell is an extreme couponer. She teaches classes to help people cut their grocery bills to nearly nothing, and she has a garage full of the things she has bought in bulk. The former inmate came over that night for an impromptu shopping trip.
"They were just trying to hold on until they got that first paycheck," Haskell said.
The incident solidified in Haskell's mind the need for something like Garage Sale Outlet, and Haskell said any number of incidents since then have helped confirm she was on the right path.
The path was never supposed to lead to this exact place, though. When she started planning, Haskell had something small in mind. A little place with garage sale items in the front and a food shelf in the back. But it became clear pretty quickly that would not be enough. Within the first two hours of their soft opening in June the front of the store was packed with donations. People would come and shop, then go home and come back with more.
The store held its official opening during Leprechaun Days last month, and on Aug. 1 they expanded into the space next door. Haskell already has four storage lockers packed with items that don't yet have a place in the store.
Haskell has taken all of the changes in stride.
"I had a vision, and God had something completely different for a vision," she said.
In addition to funding Dakota County ministries with proceeds from the store Haskell has reached out to Bible-based churches in the county to provide vouchers that can be given to people in need. Haskell hopes to fill in some of the gaps that exist in support systems around the county.
Getting everything done has taken a lot of work. Haskell's daughters, 14-year-old Alexys and 12-year-old Amanda, have given up much of their summer to help transform the store. Volunteers have stepped forward, too.
Haskell is enjoying herself, though. She particularly likes unpacking new donations when they come in. She's received everything from high-quality crystal to brand new Vera Wang clothing.
"It's like opening a treasure box," she said.
Even better, though, is offering a helping hand to people who need it most.
"Everybody needs positive things in their life, and that's what I'm trying to teach my kids," Haskell said. "It's not about what you have, it's what you give."
Nobody knows that better than she does.
15225 Carrousel Way
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday