Becker finds a home as Et Cetera Shop manager

Angie Becker, the new store manager at the Hillsboro Et Cetera Shop, is enjoying her new role. Standing near the glassware, she and the shop?s board of directors could be looking at reorganizing some of the areas to make shopping even more convenient for customers. One major change, which will happen soon, is the store going on Facebook.  Patty Decker / Free Press

The Et Cetera Shop in Hillsboro has a new manager who wants to continue improving on all the good things put in place by those preceding her.

Angie Becker, who started July 3 as manager, said she was a volunteer at the Et Cetera Shop for almost two years before applying for the position vacated by Carol Abrahams.

Born and raised three miles north of Hillsboro, Becker said she left the area to teach at Indiana University on the Kokomo campus.

?I spent 21 years at Kokomo teaching psychology and cognitive development and holding a faculty position for years,? she said.

Even though she enjoyed education, Becker said she was ready for a change.

?I decided I still had family around (in Hillsboro) and came back.?

Her mother, Geneva Becker, worked at Associated Milk Producers when it was open and later at the Kitchen Corner, where Little Pleasures is, she said.

?I like what I am doing now, but it?s different than what I did before,? she said. ?It?s a good fit (for me).?

Shop?s history

The Hillsboro Et Cetera Shop is about 38 years old, she said, but it wasn?t always a thrift store.

In those earlier days, Becker said the store didn?t have thrift items in the very beginning, but it did have a self-help shop.

?The shop had 10,000 Villages type of things made overseas,? she said.

Those kinds of items were new merchandise, and it wasn?t until later the shop handled second-hand merchandise.

Et Cetera shops today, Becker explained, are part of the Mennonite Central Committee network.

MCC doesn?t own the shops, she said, but a series of churches in the area have a representative on the board.

?The board makes decisions about the shop as a whole, with regard to where it?s headed and what repairs are needed. The manager then runs the store day to day, ? she said.

?The board and I work in conjunction with each other.?

MCC also provides training at Newton, she said, with managers and board members across the country doing national or regional kinds of programs to help people think about where the shops are going.

In exchange for training and other programs, Becker said a large portion of what is earned from people buying store merchandise is sent back to MCC.

Some of the money earned is also used to support local programs like Main Street Ministries.

In addition to having a manager, Becker said, there are two assistant managers.

Genny Abrahams is the full-time assistant manager and Kathy Jury works part-time in that position.

Perceptions

One important point Becker said she wanted to talk about was the perception of thrift shops.

?Some people believe thrift shops are only places for people who don?t have enough money to shop anywhere else, and some people might still think that today,? she said.

?This is not at all the perception of current younger generations.?

Becker said they get items that are quite current with the fashions and home appliances.

?We also get vintage items and anything in between. In this economy it?s simply smart shopping,? she said. ?I dont just want the younger generation recognizing that?I want everyone to realize it.?

Changes

Becker said she would like to get the shop on Facebook so that instead of people having to find out about things at the store, they can check and see what?s available.

Another example with Facebook involved a recent donation.

?We had someone bring in a piano and asked us to find it a good home by not selling it for a song,? she said.

?We want to reassure people we will take care of something and that?s the kind of thing we can take a picture of and put on Facebook.?

It won?t be a ?hold it? type arrangement, though, she added. But if someone asks for a specific item, Becker said she can let them know to come in.

Along with Facebook, they are looking at rearranging and reorganizing merchandise in the store.

?We are starting to get a vision of what that might look like, but I want to get someone from Newton to look at it with us, too,? she said.

Another part of the rearranging would involve the back room.

?We get a lot of (clothes, appliances and other items) and it gets tight in there,? she said. ?The tighter it is the harder to get our work done,?

Any major changes require talking to the Et Cetera Shop board.

?It might be months or a year (before the changes could be implemented), but Facebook will happen sooner than that,? she said.

Volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the shop, and Becker said she knows not everyone wants to commit their time in exactly the same way.

?We are looking for new volunteers,? she said. ?We can always use new folks able to run the simple cash registers or are willing to learn.?

Becker said the staff can teach anyone if they are ready to learn something new and the hours could be in the morning or in the afternoon.

?In the past, we asked volunteers to work at the cash register up front,? she said, ?but other people might not enjoy that.?

Volunteers, she said, might like sorting clothes by color on the racks or sorting clothes in the back on Mondays and Wednesdays.

?Volunteers in the back tag clothes and put them in carts while others set them out on the racks,? she said. ?We could use another person or two to help with that.?

Another way someone could volunteer is by rearranging shelves or someone who likes organizing things.

?We have a lot of little short-term pieces to get us to our goal,? she said. ?Sometimes a person will come in and think (clothes) sections look messy after people look through the items.

?They will come in now and then when they have time and straighten up racks.?

Volunteers can also help with appliances by testing the electronics to make sure they work or they can help with rewiring lamps.

Becker said they get a lot of lamps needing work.

Regardless of how someone might want to help, volunteers are significant to the shop?s success.

?We exist and continue to exist because of our volunteers,? she said. ?We couldn?t do this without them.?

The store is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, and is located at 109 N. Main St. For more information or to volunteer, call Becker at 620-947-3817.

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