Courtesy of The Pocono Record
Miracles Happen thrift shop has given life to the abandoned Dreibe Freight Station S&W on 537 Ann St. in Stroudsburg and has steadily grown in popularity since it first opened in May of 2014.
And it’s plenty lively these days.
It’s going very well,” said Gary Roberts, as he helps his wife, Michele, run the shop 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays with a dozen volunteers from the Zion United Church of Christ on Eighth Street. The church receives some of the revenue while some goes to the Wounded Warrior Project.
“It’s grown, it really has,” he said of the business. “Right now about 50 percent of the clientele is repeat business. People who were here before come back. There are a lot of repeat customers on bag sale days.”
The first Saturday of every month is bag day where shoppers can fill a ShopRite bag for $5.
“It’s a part-time job dream. If I could do this full time, I would,” said Michele, who got the idea to start the business from her hobby of visiting thrift shops when she travels. “I’m self-employed to a higher calling.”
Michele said she most enjoys interacting with the customers.
“It’s the people that you meet who want to talk and share stories,” she said.
And although it can be hectic at times, Michele said “when you’re working hard and having a good time, it’s not quite so hard.”
Gary Roberts said the merchandise is high grade, about 70 percent donated by parish members, and Michele said some of the labels include LL Bean, Coldwell Creek and Jones New York
“When you look at the quality clothing we have, it’s all top shelf, really good stuff,” Gary Roberts said. “You can buy a $150 coat for $5 and most of the stuff has very little wear.”
And it’s all affordably priced, which has led to a lot of word-of-moth marketing. Even the rough winter weather the first two months of last year that slowed sales did not matter as brisk business made up for it the rest of the year.
“We have more stuff than we’ve ever had,” said Michele, who said a pair of ice skates were dropped off the other day. She said the biggest increase in inventory is the shoes section but said clothes remains the biggest seller along with knickknacks.
Items for sale vary from games and books, suit jackets and blazers, ties and scarves, some children’s and baby clothes, glassware and vases, women’s tops and skirts and pants, men’s dress shirts and sport shirts, handbags and pocketbooks, plush toys, lamps, caps and hats, religious items and DVDs, CDs, even music cassettes.
The Roberts have a lease agreement with the Monroe County Historical Association to run the store that originally was a stopover for freight trains coming through Stroudsburg a century ago.
Miracles Happen had relocated from a prior location on Eighth Street when it outgrew the previous spot amid growing popularity and now has double the size at 1,500 square feet.
“We think it’s wonderful,” said Monroe County Historical Association Executive Director Amy Leiser when Miracles Happen first opened, Her organization leases the building for $1 a month to the church. “They’re renting it from us so it’s a good fit with two nonprofits coming together. We’re delighted that a historic building has a new use.”
The S&W on the station’s name stands for the New York Susquehanna and Western Railroad the station served when it was built in 1882 on McConnell Street. George Driebe bought it in 1940 and used it as an antique store at its prior location. It was to be torn down about 40 years later when the community banded and raised money to save it and moved it to its current location on land that was donated by Ed Driebe, George’s brother, on Ann Street near McMichael’s Creek.
The Monroe County Museum Association used it as a headquarters in the early years there and dedicated the building on June 5, 1983. The museum association merged with the Monroe County Historical Society to become the Monroe County Historical Association and maintained it as a train museum and for a while as an art gallery and lecture space. It was rented by the nonprofit Jacob Stroud Association from 2011 to 2014 and shortly after it left, the thrift shop opened.