Admiring the festive checkout area of Susquehanna County Interfaith’s thrift store and purchasing some gift items with assistance from cashier Gwendolyn Zimmerman were June Rhubright of Laceyville (above, right) and Rosemarie Barnhart of Montrose. Susquehanna County Interfaith executive director Cindy Beeman (below, right) gives the decorating credit to agency employees like Diane Stevens (left), who lent her skills to the display just inside the entrance.
Photos and story by Rick Hiduk
(Originally published in the Susquehanna County Independent)
As the exterior of the former Montrose United Methodist Church is transformed into a colorful and charming reminder of town’s past, something magical has happened inside too. Over the course of a few weeks, employees of Susquehanna County Interfaith have created unique holiday decorations and adorned the old sanctuary that serves as the agency’s thrift shop. And the public is invited to take in the splendor while also picking up some Christmas gifts at bargain prices.
“It’s our labor of love for the community to decorate the store,” said Interfaith executive director Cindy Beeman. She credits general manager Sandra White and store manager Annette Brungess as the creative forces behind the annual tradition, adding that they and other employees each took on a section of the interior.
Though they decorated the thrift shop at their former location on Route 706 for years, the move to the church last year and the architectural elements it offers gave the workers a whole new palette. There was just something about this year’s display that seemed especially Shiny and Bright, Beeman related, so the name stuck. People who might otherwise travel to cities to see lavish decorations can enjoy something unparalleled right in Montrose and find some inspiration for their own homes.
“People are taken aback by the overall presence,” cashier Gwendolyn Zimmerman said of the reaction of customers visiting for the first time. “It’s overwhelming in a good way. It almost makes you feel like you’re somewhere else.”
“And, since we made everything here, they know that they can replicate it with simple materials,” Beeman explained. White created a “tree” of deer antlers that fills one corner of the men’s clothing section, for example, and Interfaith outreach coordinator Diane Stevens made old-fashioned library cards with names of popular Christmas stories as ornaments for the tree in the book nook.
Among the decorations is the constantly evolving stock of gently used items that are the true hallmark of the thrift store. Indeed, on a recent Tuesday afternoon, employees were bringing new items from the store rooms as quickly as patrons were exiting with their purchases. Ample donations from area residents mean there is still plenty of clothing, kitchenware and gift items to be brought out as room becomes available. While the decorations made by the employees are not for sale, there is a room dedicated to holiday items and others scattered throughout the store that are available for purchase.
“We don’t have the problems that other stores are having with shipment delays,” said Beeman, who loves to see the smiles on the faces of children getting their first look at the exhibit. “Families have made it a tradition to bring their children here to see the decorations and buy Christmas gifts,” she noted. “It gives the parents an opportunity to show the children how to be frugal and generous at the same time. It allows people to be budget conscious and still have a nice Christmas.”
The Shiny & Bright display will be up through Monday, Jan. 3. The Susquehanna County Interfaith Thrift Store is open Monday through Friday, from 9:30 am to 5 pm and Saturdays from 9:30 am to 3 pm. The store is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Sundays. For more information, interested readers can follow Susquehanna County Interfaith on Facebook or call 570-278-1776.
Photos by Rick Hiduk
A tree fashioned from deer antlers was created by Susquehanna County Interfaith general manager Sandra White.
“Buck Boxes” in the shoe area are indicative of the simplicity of many of the decorations that can be easily replicated at home.