Oak Creek icon bound for storage as Brand Spankin’ Used prepares to close
August 29, 2017
OAK CREEK — It didn't take long for owner Janine Pierce to strike up a conversation with a woman who walked through the front door of the Brand Spankin’ Used thrift store located on Main street in Oak Creek.
For the past 15 years, Pierce has been there to greet customers, to help them find what they needed and maybe uncover something they didn't even know they were looking for. She was there to run a store that she believes has played an important role in the community she loves.
The store opened in 2002 in a 650-square-foot location just down the block near Bonfiglio Drug. It moved to its current location in 2006 and has been growing every since.
"It's been gathering place for people," she said. "So many contacts and relationships have been built from introductions that happened right here. I've always felt, honestly, that this was my purpose, and my talent to be able to do this…so obviously God has something else in store."
Despite her best efforts, the thrift store will close its door Sept. 15, ending a chapter that Pierce has spent a large part of her life writing. She said the building sold several months ago, and the owner has other plans for the 3,ooo-plus of square feet that Brand Spankin’ Used fills.
Pierce said this summer’s construction impacted her business, but it was not the reason it is closing. She said she attempted to find a new location, but after three very promising opportunities fell through, she finally had to come to terms with the realization that the store no longer had a home.
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"There are so many stories. I could write not just a book but a whole series," Pierce said of her experiences running the store. "Being able to help other people and the relationships that I have built through this is what I'm really going to miss
“There are faces and names I will never forget, and I've watched a lot of these kids grow up — from the time their mothers were pregnant and came here to buy maternity clothes and stuff for the new baby,” Pierce continued. “Now, those kids are graduating high school. It's amazing how the time has passed. It's been 98 percent joy. The other 2 percent, well there were days, but we all have them."
She said it is with great sadness that she will close the doors a few weeks from now, and she said she is truly thankful for all her customers.
"I really want to get the word out that we are closing," Pierce said. "The locals know, but I have huge donators and customers that come down from Steamboat, the Stagecoach area, Bonds and Vail. I don't want them to show up with donations, and I'm not here."
Her plans, for now, are to close the store. After that she will rent her home and plans to spend the winter in Florida. She said she will come back to Oak Creek next spring and see if anything has changed.
Until then she plans to take a break, but she admits that someday she would love to bring back Shanaynay, the mannequin that has become an Oak Creek fixture.
"I'm really hoping that I can work something out with someone on Main Street in Oak Creek,” Pierce said. “My business requires main street exposure, and Shanaynay will be going into storage. She is taking holiday as well; she is going to have some work done."
But before the store closes, Pierce hopes to help as many people as possible. She has already placed her winter items on the floor knowing that she will not be around when folks come in looking for coat.
That's exactly what the lady who came through the doors on Tuesday was looking for. She was wanting to help a young child who needed a coat at her child's bus stop. Pierce told the woman to find a coat and then made sure she also left with a hat and gloves at no cost.
"As painful as this has been, I really have faith that there is something else out there for me," Pierce said. "It's been my purpose to do this. It's just been my purpose, and it's been my place. I didn't get married, and I didn't have children, so I raised a store and now I have to let it go.
“It's just like raising a kid — I'm assuming,” Pierce added. “At some point, you have to let them go out into the world, or go on to college. I raised a store and now I have to let it go."