The Store Next Door

Jaimie McFarlin, left, and Glenna Cunningham stand behind the counter of The Store Next Door, a furniture thrift shop which opened at 113 S. Main Street in Eureka last Tuesday, October 22. Like its neighbor The Eureka Et Cetera Shop, proceeds from this store will go to Mennonite Central Committee, funding relief, education and development of places in need. 

The Eureka Et Cetera Shop has been a fixture in the town for more than 40 years.  Now it has opened another set of doors, just right next door. 

Originally purchased on Et Cetera’s 40th anniversary in June 2018, the staff and volunteers always referred to their ‘new’ building as ‘the store next door’.  When it came time to open up shop, the board decided that name had a ring to it, and it would forever and officially be called “The Store Next Door”.  The shop opened to the public last Tuesday, October 22.

The Et Cetera Shop, alongside The Store Next Door, raises money for the Mennonite Central Committee.  The MCC helps in relief, education and development in places of need locally, nationally and internationally. The board that oversees the businesses is made up of two representatives from each of its 10 sponsoring churches. 

The Eureka Et Cetera Shop has always run on donations of gently used clothing, toys, jewelry, small appliances and other household goods, and now with the opening of The Store Next Door, staff will be able to accept bigger donations of home furnishings.

“It’s furniture, domestics, decor and more,” described Jaimie McFarlin, Eureka Et Cetera Shop manager.

The shop at 113 South Main Street has gone through some renovations since Jim Chambliss retired and closed Lee’s Hallmark Shop in 2017. Most notably, large double doors were installed on the south side of the building, making it easy to load and unload bigger items.

Inside, customers can find a collection of various pieces of furniture, linens, as well as volunteer-made pieces such as shawls, rag rugs and art made with broken items or smaller merchandise that Et Cetera can’t sell otherwise. All of the displays are set against a backdrop of a beautiful barn wood and tin wall, a project finished by volunteers from Hopedale Mennonite Church.

There are many other display furnishings and fixtures in the store that customers may recognize from the store’s Hallmark days, including Chambliss’ life-sized stuffed bear, which now dons a “The Store Next Door” t-shirt. McFarlin said Chambliss, who ran the Hallmark store for more than 30 years, seemed pleased when he stopped in for a visit.

“Jim came in, he was very excited to see (the store). He loved it, which was nice to hear,” said McFarlin.

But before Hallmark opened its doors in the early 80’s, the building was known for years as “The Woodford Theater”, a single-screen movie house that seated 400.

The staff discovered a lot of the old movie theater relics as they explored the upstairs storage area.  They decided to incorporate most of it in the shop.  When customers walk in the front door, they won’t be able to miss the old projectors on either side of the door, or the old film reels and transformers that decorate the wall.  Some of the lights from the movie theater have been rewired and installed on the main floor, and even the old fire door has a place at the front of the store. The checkout counter also came down from the projection room.

McFarlin said she is extremely pleased and excited with the new store, and how everything has turned out. “We had no idea it could even be this, we didn’t even know,” said McFarlin.  “Everything has just fallen into place.”

McFarlin, now in her 15th year at Et Cetera, and her second as manager, spends most of her time next door at The Et Cetera Shop, so she put the management of The Store Next Door into the very capable hands of Glenna Cunningham, who has been with Et Cetera for a decade. 

“She’s such a great fit for it,” remarked McFarlin.

After all the bills are paid, proceeds from both thrift stores go directly to MCC.  Et Cetera has raked in quite a bit in the last 41 years.  On the 40th anniversary, McFarlin said they were presented with a certificate with the total amount of money it has raised for people in need.  That amount was $4.1 million.

“Just from this little shop in Eureka, Illinois...it just makes me want to cry,” said McFarlin.  “God is so good.  He just keeps bringing things in the back door, and they’re free, and we sell them and we make that money, and it’s all to His glory.  It’s wonderful.”

Donations are always welcomed at both stores, but The Store Next Door will only take furniture donations.  McFarlin said they reserve the right to reject some items, if they are damaged or otherwise in bad condition.  Unfortunately, sofa sleepers cannot be accepted due to their weight.  She encourages those who have furniture donations to take a picture and text it to her first before loading it up. 

The two shops currently have the same hours, Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Christmas Shop is now open in the basement of the Et Cetera, and will remain open until the first of the new year. The official ribbon cutting and Grand Opening of The Store Next Door is set for November 6 at 9 a.m.  Light snacks and drinks will be provided.  

For more information on The Et Cetera Shop, and/or The Store Next Door, give them a call at 309-467-4211 (Et Cetera) or 309-467-4262 (The Store Next Door).  You can also follow the Et Cetera’s Facebook page, or simply take a trip to downtown Eureka, and possibly down memory lane, and check it out yourself.  Chances are, you won’t leave disappointed.