St. Vincent de Paul store expands in Hilbert
By Mark Sherry

Joann Kopack, manager of the St. Vincent de Paul store in Hilbert, stands among just some of the furniture now displayed for sale in the former meat market building adjacent to the store.

Mark Sherry photo

Joann Kopack is not quite sure about the reasons why the St. Vincent de Paul store in Hilbert which she manages is getting so many more donations these days, but she does know they are very blessed to get them.

In fact, the store has seen donations of furniture increase so much in recent years that last March it acquired use of the former Hilbert Meat Market building next door to the existing St. Vincent de Paul Store along STH 32/57 on Hilbert’s south side.

After doing some renovations, that building now houses all the furniture being sold by or, on occasion, given away by St. Vincent de Paul. Kopack said the building is not open all the time because something the store could use more of is volunteers. When a customer comes into the main St. Vincent de Paul store and wishes to take a look at the available furniture, a volunteer often has to go next door and open it up for the customer. Kopack said if they had more volunteers they might be able to regularly staff the furniture building. Anyone wishing to volunteer some time at St. Vincent de Paul is welcome to stop at the store for more information.

The store’s staff is entirely comprised of volunteers, including Kopack. The Hilbert store is under the direction of the St. Vincent de Paul district based in Kaukauna. In addition to the Hilbert store, that district includes stores in Kaukauna and Kiel and food pantries in Brillion and New Holstein.

Volunteers from all over

Kopack said the Hilbert store’s current volunteers come from Hilbert, Sherwood, Brillion, Forest Junction, Stockbridge and other locations. A number of the volunteers have been helping at the store for a long time, as Kopack said they try to have fun while volunteering their time.

What was not so much fun was trying to show customers available furniture back when it was packed in unheated storage units behind the main store. Over time those units became so full that it was difficult if not impossible for customers to peruse the inventory.

The new furniture building is also quite full these days but a person can at least walk through it to find couches, recliners, dressers, appliances, and more—and it is heated in the winter. “The biggest selling item is a dresser,” Kopack said, adding that a good dresser does not last long on the sales floor. The store also has volunteers who are good at fixing things to make sure items they put on the sales floor are in working condition.

This time of year, many of the people checking out the furniture building are college students and/or their parents. But Kopack added, “We get all kinds of people.”

Keeping it out of landfills

The store does get some antiques donated to it, so customers also include antique hunters, collectors and “pickers.” It does not matter to Kopack who the buyers are or what their plans are for the items they purchase, because their purchases do two very beneficial things—they keep items out of landfills, and they raise funds which St. Vincent de Paul then gives to people in need.

“We might sell something for $1 and we know it’s worth more, but we keep it out of the landfill,” Kopack said. “We try to work every end of this.”

St. Vincent de Paul and its stores are not just about selling but are primarily about giving to people in need. Kopack said people in need work with the human resources department of their local county to get vouchers which can then be used at places such as the St. Vincent de Paul store in Hilbert or at the area food pantries.

With donations of unwanted items having increased at the store, the shelves and racks have become more full which has led to an increase in sales; however, there also has been an increase in recent years of people needing assistance during a sometimes challenging economic period. “It kind of balances itself out,” Kopack said.

First Fridays sale

In part to help make sure the sales floor does not get too congested, the first Friday of each month sees 50 percent off the price of everything in the store, all day long. “That has become so popular,” Kopack said, adding that she feels the store’s everyday prices are already very reasonable. Specific departments within the store also see regular discount days throughout the month.

Other reasons why the Hilbert store furniture; and it will even clean out unwanted items from a person’s home.

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