Phyllis Newell (left) and Louise Rut­ledge (right) ring up a Reading res­ident buying affordable canning jars for her son’s school project. Col­legian | Crystal Schupbach

When a woman realized that maternity tops cost just 25 cents at June’s Place thrift store, she started to cry.

Moments like these stand out to Louise Rut­ledge, a “forever res­ident” of Reading, Michigan, who vol­un­teers at the non-profit, com­munity-driven thrift store.

In four short years, June’s Place at 125 S. Main Street in Reading has raised $70,000 for the com­munity and beyond. The Women of Reading United Methodist Church founded the store in honor of the life of a church member, June Rade­baugh. Every Monday, the women’s group gathers to sort dona­tions for the racks of the store­front.

About 20 vol­un­teers staff the store, which is open every Friday and Sat­urday, said Phyllis Newell, the chair­woman of June’s Place and the trea­surer for the women’s group. Newell has attended United Methodist since she was very young and directed the choir there for 50 years.

“It’s a mission product for the com­munity,” Newell said. “We also give to people who have severe illness and can not work. The money covers things like funeral expenses too.”

The profit the store raises goes to orga­ni­za­tions and schools in Reading. This includes a program at the schools called the backpack program, which pro­vides a backpack every Friday full of food for stu­dents who might not have much to eat at home over the weekend. Newell also said June’s Place gives to the Shriners orga­ni­za­tions. In addition, the store grants a $500 schol­arship each year to one young man and one young woman at Reading High School.  

Newell said being open on Fridays and Sat­urdays is easy, whereas the time spent on Mondays ensures that articles of clothing have working zippers, no missing buttons, and are ‘spit-and-polish clean.’

“I love working Fridays because you get to know the people who come in,” Newell said. “We have a rep­u­tation, so we get people from all over. It’s clean and it smells good — we don’t put out stuff that smells like a cat or a smoker, and it makes a dif­ference.”

It’s not just women from the Reading United Methodist Church running June’s Place. People from the town and sur­rounding com­mu­nities vol­unteer as well.

Newell said the women’s group was inspired to start June’s Place after they visited a church in Union City, Michigan that had a resale store.

“It took us months to know whether we could do this too or not. We were worried whether or not we’d have enough dona­tions or enough people to keep it running — we have both,” Newell said.

Sue Denning, who has lived in Reading for the past five years and has vol­un­teered at June’s Place since it opened, empha­sized that the prices for good-quality items can stay low because vol­un­teers run the shop.

“People get to have things that they might not have oth­erwise. An Amish dad bought his daughter rollerblades; she was thrilled with them,” Denning said. “I love seeing the excitement of the children.”

One day, Rut­ledge said, a couple came in and wanted to pur­chase a nativity scene, but did not have the money. Upon over­hearing their problem, a gen­tleman in the store anony­mously pur­chased the set for them.

“Some­times the good we have here brings out the good in other people,” Rut­ledge added.

Such good deeds point back to someone who was an important part of Reading’s com­munity.

“June Rade­baugh was very active in the United Methodist Women and church, and she passed away six months before we opened,” Newell said. “She was such a mission-minded person, so we named the store after her.”

June’s Place is not just for the people of Reading United Methodist, Newell said — many people from all dif­ferent faiths in the town come to help and shop.

“To just know that there is a com­munity of people, that by buying things less expen­sively here, those people are able to spend money on food and util­ities,” Denning said. “When you’re living a good life, you don’t always know what other people are going through.”