2016-11-24 / Life in Leelanau

Good Samaritans keep expanding; now furniture

Samaritan’s Closet provides helping hand to community
By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


MANAGER CLAIRE Wilder is busy getting everything set out on shelves in the Christmas room at the new Samaritan’s Closet furniture store, located in the back of the Connie Binsfeld building in Lake Leelanau. MANAGER CLAIRE Wilder is busy getting everything set out on shelves in the Christmas room at the new Samaritan’s Closet furniture store, located in the back of the Connie Binsfeld building in Lake Leelanau. Samaritan’s Closet is bursting at the seams.

While that’s a good thing for the non-profit thrift shop, it’s making for some crowded Christmas shopping at the Lake Leelanau store.

A new Samaritan’s furniture store aims to ease some of that congestion by adding a second store.

A Grand Opening Celebration will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for the second store, located just up the street in Lake Leelanau in the Connie Binsfeld Resource Center. Coffee, cider and donuts will be served at the event.

“We’re making it an open house, come check it out thing,” said Claire Wilder, who will manage the new store.

Furniture and other household items will be sold out of three rented rooms in the back of the building, with one room filled with Christmas items.

Samaritan’s will also maintain an office in the Binsfeld Building and have access to a common room.

The goal is to take up more rooms as the second store becomes successful, said Dee Glass, president of the Samaritan’s Board of Directors.

The new store will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Like the original Samaritan’s Closet, it will be run by mostly volunteers.

And more volunteers are always needed, Glass said.

Wilder said the Binsfeld building, which is off M-204 in Lake Leelanau, is just about the perfect place for the store. The Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department occupies the majority of the building, which also hosts ShareCare and offices for the Leelanau Family Coordinating Council.


CLAIRE WILDER is manager of the new Samaritan’s Closet furniture store, which has three rooms and an office in the Connie Binsfeld building in Lake Leelanau. An Open House Celebration will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. CLAIRE WILDER is manager of the new Samaritan’s Closet furniture store, which has three rooms and an office in the Connie Binsfeld building in Lake Leelanau. An Open House Celebration will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. A group of preschoolers and their moms also meets in the building once a week for a play group.

“We have a lot of community pieces and parts in the rest of the building,” Wilder said.

Those organizations will give the new Samaritan’s store some exposure and vice versa, Glass said.

Plus, while the store may lack a street front presence, it will benefit from traffic headed to and from a recycling center located at the back of the parking lot, Wilder said.

“There’s a lot of space here,” she said. “It was so empty and wasted before. Now it can be used for a community driven organization.”

Samaritan’s Closet first opened in 2009 with a $1,000 anonymous donation in a couple of rooms in what was sometimes called the Penny Power building on Meinrad and St. Mary’s streets in Lake Leelanau.

The donation was given to Leland Methodist Church, which placed its outcome in the hands of Glass with a suggestion that the money be used as an incubator.

Glass and a handful of volunteer women worked to get the resale store up and running.

“Their husbands built racks and they went different places to get things to fill up the two rooms,” Glass said.

Those rooms were soon overflowing with donated items that came in. The small group of volunteers soon came to realize they would have to do something different to keep up with demand, Glass said.

About a year later the little house near the corner of M-204 and Lake Leelanau Drive came up for rent, and they took it. That soon filled up, so they put up a pole barn on the property.

“It is also full,” Glass said. “The community is so generous to us.”

By the first or second year Samaritan’s was giving back to the community in other forms. The organization supported activities such as the Laundry Project that helps people afford to wash and dry their clothes at a local laundromat, made up Christmas bags for children, and helped out when asked by individuals to cover bills such as for dental care.

“We contribute what we can,” Glass said.

Just recently $22,000 was given out to Leelanau Christian Neighbors, ShareCare, the Family Coordinating Council and a local cancer fund, Glass said.

Donations to the store can be dropped off at the Lake Leelanau Drive site, Glass said, where it will be sorted to decide which items stay and which ones go to the Binsfeld site.

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