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May 28, 2015 | Darby Kethan

The “Mouse” and the “Mouseketeers” Offer Resale with a Mission

[Diolog Magazine] Woodville“Where in the world did you get that GREAT dress?” The answer may come sheepishly or boldly“At the Mouse,” St. Paul’s resale shop in Woodville. One story starts a flood of others: the Coach bag, the divine and never worn Trotter shoes, the first edition of a favorite book, a 24-karat gold sand dollar necklace for a dime. Discoveries are endless and the joyful recounting of them lights up the faces of those sharing resale treasure tales of loot that would make a pirate envious! It’s “retail therapy” with a twist!


What is our fascination with finding “buried treasure”? These resale shops are more than inexpensive sources of clothing and household goods, more than shopping conservatively. Moms, matrons, teachers, lawyers, teens and the elderly all share the “thrill of the hunt” and the camaraderie of kindred souls shopping resale. One common thread is many who understand the value in goods that are not yet used up.


“Resale shopping makes God’s money go farther and leaves me more money to spend for others,” one customer said. Her husband admitted that she had probably saved as much as he’d made over the years.


And there is something else shared. Regulars return weekly to shop and stop to talk about their day, their family, their burdens and their joys. We are a true ministry for those who walk through the door, inviting them to share their lives with us as we share ours with them.


“I come in, down in the dumps, and am made happy,” one regular customer said. Another said they “get the Word” when they come in and only later “recognize the message.”


St. Paul’s started its resale ministry in a trailer some 30–35 years ago. The Church Mouse—a suggestion from the woman who had the original idea—has grown to fill a room in the parish hall today. Eight regular volunteers, known as “Mouseketeers,” open the store twice weekly. It is a bright and cheerful space, small, but well able to handle the constant arrival of donated items from the community and church members.


Several years ago we added a used book section: paperbacks $1.00, with a trade of 2-for-1 working well. Some day there are many customers, other days, only a few, but there is always something to do. Mouseketeers sort through mountains of donations, hang clothes, arrange and price objects, keep the books, learn about and listen to our shoppers.


Proceeds fund outreach, church programs and other local projects such as River of Life, a ministry to women seeking a second chance for education and life skills; Caring Is Sharing, our local food and emergency outreach program; and support for pregnant women seeking to raise and support their children. Our “Mouse” is a ministry for all those who come, for whatever reason, looking for unexpected treasures or a bit of advice. They find a welcoming, supportive and caring group of volunteers.


Sunday morning coffee hour often finds our parishioners and visitors shopping. Some fast-paced horse trading is apt to go on when a “find” is coveted by more than one person!  I traded a long red coat I’d worn for a beautiful Pendleton pea jacket my friend found. She liked mine better and I still like hers best … on me! 


I won’t soon forget my new EXPENSIVE Easter shoes that sold for 75 cents when I absentmindedly laid them down and a customer bought them. A church member once forgot her jacket at the Mouse. It sold only to return four years later for resale. We have had several style shows, with models fashionably dressed completely from our Mouse collection. This has proved a great way to advertise and reach the larger community. We sell out of our “one of a kind” outfits every time, garner new customers and have a riotously good time.


Resale shops have always been a part of society; however, the evangelical aspect of such church-supported stores makes them a true “missionary outpost,” a place to find information on child care, education, comfort when life hurts, help with utilities, information on health care, family services, friends, local events, activities, etc. Welcoming, friendly, resourceful, intriguing; the real “treasure” in places like the Church Mouse is the gift of giving of ourselves as we minister to those who come.


Kethan is a member of St. Paul’s.


St. Paul’s “The Mouse”

1703 W Bluff St., Woodville, TX 75979