SUTHERLAND—Doug Negus does not hide the fact that he is a hoarder.
However, the Sutherland man has turned that habit into a couple of businesses, including a new one called First Street Thrift & Vinyl, which opened for business on Monday, July 29, for the first time.
Negus’ new business is located at the former American Legion building in Sutherland. Part of the thrift store’s name comes from its address of 115 W. First St.
“If people can find First Street in town, then they’ll find it,” he said. “‘Thrift & Vinyl’ kind of explains what we’ve got in here.”
Negus has collected objects of all kinds from people who have rented residential properties from him in Sutherland, Calumet and Peterson and left things behind.
“I’ve had 30 years of rental houses and they’ve left a lot behind and I’ve saved that,” he said. “I’ve had people giving me stuff. I’m going to auctions and buying a lot through them. Once in a while, I’ll keep a piece that I like.”
Not only does Negus have several miscellaneous items for sale at his business, he also has quite a collection of vinyl records that he plans to put on display on the thrift store’s main-floor stage.
“I’ve 50,000 to 60,000 total at home,” he said. “I’m hoping to get 10,000 to 12,000 up on the stage there for people to go through.
“That’s all got to get cataloged and alphabetized,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of high school girls hired to alphabetize them.”
Most of Negus’ record albums already are at his business, either in boxes up on the stage or stored underneath the stage.
“I’m building the cases for them,” he said. “I figure they hold about 1,000 apiece.”
Negus is using old barn wood to build each of the cases.
“I had a renter that tore down a barn and then he moved out and left it all in the garage,” he said. “I thought I might as well use it. It’s kind of nostalgic to look at the records that way.”
Negus’ 45- and 78-rpm single records are stored elsewhere for now, but they eventually will make their way to the thrift store.
“They take up a lot of room,” he said. “They’re heavy and hard to move.”
Among the several miscellaneous items for sale at his business, Negus offers used furniture, glassware, kitchen supplies, antiques, books, movies, video games, CDs, audio cassettes and eight-track tapes.
“It’ll be changing constantly because there’s always new stuff coming in,” he said. “I go to auctions all the time and buy more and put it in here.”
Several of his family members have been helping him get the thrift store organized inside the two-story, 69-year-old brick building his business calls home in Sutherland.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” he said. “I would’ve given up a long time ago.”
The structure used to be not only a meeting location for American Legion and Legion Auxiliary members, but a place for community members to gather for dances and roller skating.
Negus opened a thrift store location in Sutherland because a similar business he owns called the Calumet Den has run out of room for all of the items he wants to sell.
“We outgrew Calumet,” he said. “It was just too small of a building for us.”
He had been looking for another thrift store location and people kept encouraging him to buy the former American Legion building in Sutherland.
Negus initially was hesitant about purchasing the structure, but after thinking about a potential business at the location, he decided to buy the building.
“I had to fix the roof — it was leaking badly — and just clean it up,” he said. “It wasn’t in too bad of shape.
“We just thought we needed to save this old building,” he said. “We didn’t want to see it torn down.”
Negus explained the advantages of having a thrift store location in Sutherland.
“We just thought we’d have better traffic flow here with a bigger town,” he said, noting that he is looking forward to Sutherland’s annual Labor Day Celebration. “There will be a lot of people in town. Hopefully, that’ll help.”
Negus is planning to keep the Calumet Den location, but only sell items that are worth 25 cents apiece. The “Den” part of the business’ name comes from his initials of his full name, Douglas Eugene Negus.
“That way, we don’t have to mark it, we don’t have to have a cash register,” he said. “We can add all that in our head. We’ll just open that maybe once a month. It’s mostly glassware.”
Negus, a part-time U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, estimated that more than 100 people visited his Sutherland thrift store on its first day of business.
“It was a really good day,” he said. “We kind of opened just to get things going and see what we need to tweak. We don’t have any set hours yet.
“I’ll just put on Facebook when it’s open,” he said. “It won’t be every day of the week. We’ll get organized so that we’ll have some regular hours.”
This story was originally published in the Aug. 3 edition of The South O'Brien Sun.