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Riverwest Resale Reopens for Business

by Peter Schmidtke

Riverwest residents Trent Hanson and Angela Botka stepped out for a bite of Mexican food and returned home the proud co-owners of a thrift shop. It wasn’t quite that simple, but the spark for the November 1 re-opening of the Riverwest Resale shop at 731 E. Center was a chance meeting at a restaurant several months ago between Hanson and his friend Tom Brittain, owner of the building in which both the Onopa Brewery and the Riverwest Resale shop are housed. “He said he was looking for someone to own the store,” Hanson said. “And I figured I should give it a shot.”

“There are certain things you probably should buy new, but for other things, you should definitely come and take a look here, because either we have it, or we will have it.”

After Hanson worked out the business details, he picked up the keys from Brittain in mid October and has since been working alongside Botke and his new employees Elton Lawson and Tea Krulos to get the shop cleaned up and the merchandise reorganized. Although sections of the store, vacant since June, are piled high with unopened boxes, Hanson said he was grateful the previous shop owner had labeled the boxes. “That was kind of a godsend to come in here and see that,” he said. Customers can enter Riverwest Resale through a staircase on Center Street that leads up to a naturally-lit main floor and a side showroom for larger furniture and appliances. A glance around the floor reveals oodles of everything – sliding racks of clothes, boxes of ice skates, children’s toys, books, CDs, bread-making machines, pots and pans, Christmas decorations, even an antique-looking sled. “Pretty much everything that is in your house, we have here,” Hanson said of the 7,200-square-foot shop. “But the meat and potatoes of the store is the furniture.” Hanson said he will be selling couches for bargain prices. “They’re nice couches, but I will need to make room for other stuff. If something is not selling at ten dollars, I’ll sell it for one dollar just to get rid of it.” “Our goal isn’t to have a full store,” Botka added. They expect to sell over 5,000 pounds of merchandise per week, based on past sales three years ago when Hanson and his brother Brett worked at Riverwest Resale. They will buy the used merchandise in bulk quantities and will also accept donations of functional appliances and other items in good shape. Hanson and Botka said they will be holding a regular free clothing and furniture giveaway on the last Saturday of each month and will donate a percentage of the store’s furniture to Project Second Start, an organization that helps families establish independence. Hanson also said he would like to have bands and DJs perform on Saturdays. “I think it would be a nice thing to have in the store, especially in the winter,” added Botka. Keeping the atmosphere light is something Hanson knows about from his prior work at Riverwest Resale. “You get to have more conversations with people when they come in. It’s more laid back. And it’s pretty interesting, the kind of stuff you find.” While the co-owners admit that all of the store’s merchandise was at one time purchased new in shiny department store aisles, they both stressed the economic and environmental importance of a resale store. “Our country is knee-deep in junk,” said Hanson. “There are certain things you probably should buy new, but for other things, you should definitely come and take a look here, because either we have it, or we will have it.” Trent Hanson or Angela Botka can be reached at Riverwest Resale at (414) 372-9775. Hours will be Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sundays from noon – 4 p.m. Riverwest Resale will be open for business on November 1 and will have its first “extravaganza” sale during the Thanksgiving weekend. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 10 – November 2002