Shop on State, A Mission for Mitchell County, was an activated dream of Chris Fannin, modeled after a similar shop in her Ohio hometown.
In May of 2009, SOS (Shop on State) opened in the basement of the United Church of Christ, located on State Street, Osage, with Chris as manager and a three-member board in place. Application for non-profit status was made. Later, the board was expanded to five members in order to have representation from each community of the county. Despite naysayers, SOS grew and was soon out of space. Large items were stored in other locations, creating a challenge for volunteers and customers, alike. Our growth, plus increased donations, equaled a need for larger quarters.
In 2013, Mary Dunea, a local philanthropist and owner of Washington School, generously offered, rent-free plus operation money, the use of classrooms on the ground level. That summer, with a lot of volunteers' help, SOS moved to South Seventh Street. With the expansion, more volunteers were added, donations increased, as did customers. Estates, E-Bay sales and Facebook postings helped increase sales, thus allowing the board to give semi-annual grants to Mitchell County non-profits.
SOS became a destination for many out-of-town customers, who would make their appointments on days we were open. Many reminisced about their days as students in the building and expressed gratitude the building had been repurposed. Inventory added daily meant there was always something different on the shelves. One customer said he used SOS for entertainment, because there were so many interesting items for sale. Some came several times a day and seldom missed a day when the shop was open. (Tuesdays, Thursdays and the first Saturday of the month.)
Friendships were formed among the hundreds of volunteers and customers. About the only complaint volunteers had was because there were always busy, they had no time to shop. All workers at SOS were non-paid volunteers, including Chris Fannin, who has devoted eight and a half years of her life to Mitchell County. A total of 110 recipients, from day care centers to schools to libraries, have received grants, some multiple times. Giving over $500,000 in grants is an amazing feat. Everyone involved, in any manner, large or small, should be proud of this accomplishment. The generous donations, the volunteers, the board, and last, but not least, the customers - it took all to make it work.
SOS, a Mission to Mitchell County, has been a remarkable success story. It provided many with beds, furniture, clothes, household items and also contributed items to assist many churches and organizations with their projects, both local, out of county, and out of country. Chris spent countless hours helping individuals with emergency needs (foster care, house fires, social services, etc.) Hundreds of people have reaped the benefits. Thank you Chris, our manager, for activating a dream and Mary Dunea for giving us a spacious home.
Mary Dunea sold the Washington School in late 2016, with the stipulation SOS could remain in the building rent-free until Nov. 1, 2017.
Thank you Shop on State. You will be missed.
The following have served on the Shop on State since its inception - Gail Jensen, Joan Machin, Sister Millie Leuenberger OSF, Betty Borchardt, Holly Schwarck, Mary Fisk and Gary Gilbert.
Mary Fisk, SOS Board Secretary