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ped 01Volunteers: Nancy, Karen A., Kathy, Judy and Karen B.First birthdays are milestones, signs that something new has flourished and lasted. First birthdays fill us with hope for the future.

As Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor celebrated on December 13, 2014, the first birthdayof its new ministry, the Franciscan Peddler Thrift Shop, they recognized how this ministry has flourished and given hope to the many people who cross the shop’s threshold.

Swimming in sales

Once a physical therapy pool that was filled in to create a permanent store, the Franciscan Peddler now swims with opportunities for purchasing bargains and supporting the mission of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and their Associates. Through the support of the neighboring community, the Sisters, and dedicated Associates and volunteers, the thrift shop has raised more than $25,000 in its first year, according to Joan Mills, Director of Associates and the organizing force behind establishing the Franciscan Peddler.

 ped 05Bookshelve Display in the Peddlerped 03Christmas display with Santa's chair

Located on the grounds of St. Clare Convent in Cincinnati, the pool was transformed into a bright, spacious area to invite shoppers. Guests, said Joan, comment frequently on the shop’s friendly staff, the attractive displays, the quality of the items, and the fair prices. The store’s merchandise is mostly new or gently-worn clothing, household items, decorative pieces, and artwork, with religious merchandise collected in a specialty area called the “The Soul Section.”
Many friends of the Peddler from Dayton, Ohio, and New York made the opening of the store possible with generous donations. One volunteer, Nancy, donated her pickup truck, her time, and her planning experience to find and gather the close-out sale store fixtures, display cases, racks, and mannequins to ready the shop for the first day of business.
“Mannequins were holding up coat racks, and display cases leaned on dress racks on the ride home to the Peddler. It was a sight to see,” Nancy said.

Shopping with dignity

ped 02Teapot display

 ped 062014 Christmas at the Peddler

Sisters, Associates, and volunteers perform many operational tasks at the Peddler, including sorting donations, serving as cashiers, stocking merchandise, organizing, and pricing. And, too, they share the love of the mission of the Sisters.   
“The Franciscan Peddler wouldn’t be possible without the love and hard work of our volunteers,” Joan said. “Their work provides a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie; it provides a time to share and build friendships. Our shop invites people to come, feel welcomed, and shop in a beautiful place. It truly is a sacred place for all to meet Christ, providing affordable shopping with dignity.”
A Spring Fashion Show featuring Peddler merchandise worn by Associates, volunteers, and Sisters is planned for 2015.

Carrying out Mother Frances’ vision

One volunteer says about her experience at the Peddler: “It makes me feel good knowing that I am helping to change lives.”

Another volunteer offers: “Supporting the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor ministries is really important. I’m honored to have a small part in serving at the shop. It’s wonderful, and as a bonus, there are fantastic volunteers, customers, and Sisters to work with.”
Judy, another volunteer, says that “being part of The Peddler is a sunny spot” in her week. “Retirement brings all kinds of demands on my ‘free time,’ but I was extremely happy when I discovered The Peddler last April, first as a customer and then as a volunteer. I’ve met many new, talented, and dedicated people with a mission to really make a difference. I love the spiritual feeling I get just from being in the building.”

Pat relates that her voluntarism at the Peddler means “seeing a vision of carrying out Mother Frances’ charism to serve the poor. It is very rewarding to see how people learn from each other and trust each other in so many ways in the Peddler. It is truly the Franciscan Way.”
Karen, a volunteer, loves meeting and learning about the people that shop at the Peddler. “The shop gives them an affordable and enjoyable way to buy what they need for themselves and others. I love seeing the joy that sometimes comes when they find an unexpected diamond in the rough!” she said.

Praying for shoppers’ intentions

So many prayer requests have come from Peddler shoppers, said Joan, that the staff placed a “Prayer Jar” in the shop. Shoppers can put their requests in the prayer jar and those prayer intentions will be remembered each month on our Congregation’s prayer page.

The Franciscan Peddler Thrift Shop is open on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each week.

For more information, visit

Joan Mills  

Published: January 23, 2015