Local News

Emporium settles in new home

SEBRING - It took only two days for Levon Stukes and his cadre of volunteers to relocate the Boys & Girls Club Emporium, or thrift store, from its old location to its new permanent home. "We are in," he said. "I'm not sure we are settled," he grinned, when asked that question but they are certainly open for business again. The emporium opened its doors at its new location, 248 Pomegranate Ave., Sebring, July 1 and plans are already afoot on how to make the best use of the 18,000-plus-square-foot-building with three stories. Boston Mining Co. donated the building, which had been vacant since 2006, to the nonprofit organization.
Wednesday, volunteers were helping to sort out some of the donated merchandise. The 7,500-square-foot showroom, which includes a back area, was full with several items neatly arranged and stacked - from $1 ladies blouses to kids clothing to hand bags and fluffy toys. A separate reading room, named after big supporter and board member Gabriel Read, has books available for sale for all age groups, and people are invited to just sit down and read if they so desire. Stukes said they are now selling mattresses, and as part of the Sebring downtown sidewalk sale July 20 from 8 a.m. to noon will have a Christmas in July theme. While the regular store hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, it also will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. on the second Fridays as part of Destination Down, along with the sidewalk sale events on the morning of every third Saturday. While the new location is not on the Sebring Circle, Boys & Girls Club board treasurer and building manager Dawn Balsamo explained the best way to get there: The new store is behind the Children's Museum of the Highlands and can be accessed by cutting through the pocket park next to the museum - Sadie Kahn Park. Balsamo said the transition was smooth. Many local contractors donated their labor to fix some of the things that needed to be taken care of - such as the roof - but the 1920s-era building was otherwise in good structural shape, she added While the building is donated, Balsamo said they want to raise funds to convert the first story into office spaces to offset the cost of paying for the electricity. Stukes showed a separate door that leads to and from the first story. Also on the drawing books are possible boutique spaces on the first floor when the second floor is remodeled and the office staff can move their administrative offices there. "We have a lot of things we have set aside that are too expensive to be put (in the regular showroom)," said Carol Cecil, who also is the grants manager. She hopes the boutiques would be a good place for them. The Boys & Girls Club uses the proceeds from the store to support its programs. They also take in donations. To contact the store, call 658-1042.