In 1973 Rev. Ward Stephenson, Mrs. Fred Grant, and Rev. Paul Christianson proposed the idea of the Winneshiek County churches organize and operate a non-profit thrift store supplied with donated clothing.
The first store was located in a house on East Water Street but quickly moved to the passenger depot station on East Water Street. Thus the name was born and the organization became incorporated as Depot Outlet, Inc.
As the organization grew, Iverson’s Funeral Home was purchased. By 1984, overcrowding once again forced a move. Depot Outlet purchased the Brickner building on Railroad Street. That building was torn down and a new one was constructed. It is worth noting that the interior was designed and built by the Army Reserves and the NICC carpentry class.
In 1984, Winneshiek County Development Services and The Sheltered Workshop, two services providing work training to disabled adults, merged to form Spectrum Industries. Spectrum Industries and Depot Outlet worked together until 2005. At which time, the two organizations each focused on their separate missions.
June 2013, Depot Outlet purchased the Lang’s Dairy building. With the help of board members, staff and volunteers from the member churches, the interior was cleaned and painted. Construction began and the current location was opened on April 1, 2014.
Over the years, Depot Outlet has grown to 34 Christian member churches throughout Winneshiek County. Since 1973, over $1.5 million in funding has been “recycled” by Depot Outlet back to the member churches and other non-profit organizations in the county. There are over 20 full and part time employees who help to provide a pleasant shopping experience for the community. Our mission of recycling donated clothing and household items and giving back those profits to the Winneshiek County churches and other non-profits will continue.
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