TRACY - It started as a hobby, grew to a neighborhood yard sale, and now it's a new business venture for Sharon Hohler of rural Tracy.
Hohler is opening Homeless Treasures, a store for the vintage finds, and even the "odds and ends" Hohler discovers.
"People collect different things," Hohler said, looking around her showroom, a specially-built shed with a back door kept open to the breeze. "We had some people come in who were interested in minnow buckets."
Photo by Deb Gau
Sharon Hohler shows off some of the vintage lighting and other items she’s collected at Homeless Treasures, a business she started at her home south of Tracy. Homeless Treasures will be open for selected weekends during the summer and fall, and by appointment.
Carefully arranged around the shed was everything from a retro chrome-styled kitchen table and chairs, to old hats, jewelry, dressers and even a collection of old glass pop bottles. (And yes, a few different minnow buckets.)
Homeless Treasures was an idea that took a while to come to fruition.
Hohler, who is also a paraprofessional at Tracy Area Elementary School, says she's always been something of a collector.
"I like going to auctions," she said, as well as shopping around for all kinds of antiques and secondhand finds. Then, about 10 years ago, the Hohlers and their neighbors began hosting an annual group yard sale that was a good way to find new homes for things in the collection. Hohler said she then wanted to try opening a business out of her yard.
The name of the business was one of the last pieces to fall into place, Hohler said. She had been brainstorming some different ideas, she said, when a browsing customer remarked, "Just look at all these poor homeless treasures!" It was a moment of inspiration, she said.
Hohler said she tries to seek out a variety of things that might appeal to people - for example, a collection of old ladies' hats is always a big draw for kids. Hohler said her husband Randy also goes to auctions, and helps with finding "guy things."
"I like things that have local connections," Hohler said, gesturing to a pair of roller skates in a metal case as an example. "These aren't just roller skates, there's advertising on here for a roller rink in Willmar." Finding pop bottles from now-extinct local bottling companies is fun, too, she said.
The only real rule, she said, is her pricing. "I wanted it to be affordable," she said. "There's only one thing in here that costs more than $100," one of the pieces of furniture.
It took "a lot longer than I thought it would" to arrange everything for sale, Hohler said. She's going to keep changing things up, though. "I want it to be different every time (customers) see it. You won't see the same stuff."
Homeless Treasures is located at the Hohlers' home, off of Murray County Road 17, south of Tracy. Hohler said she plans to open Homeless Treasures during selected weekends in the summer and fall, starting July 8-9 - convenient for people attending the Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove, she said. Homeless Treasures will also be open by appointment, she said.