July 26, 2022
Meet EveryStep Giving Tree Store Manager Michele Bronson
EveryStep Giving Tree store manager Michele Bronson is no stranger to retail, with more than 30 years’ experience with high profile clothing retailers like American Eagle, Justice, Christopher & Banks and Chico’s. When she learned of the opportunity with EveryStep Giving Tree, she was a bit skeptical. She’d never worked with a thrift store.
“I was kind of in a spot where I was really getting burned out – I was working 70 hours a week. A thrift store wasn’t really anything I ever thought I’d do but I thought, well, I’ll be open to it, so we set up an interview.”
In preparation for the interview, Michele checked out EveryStep’s website and even scoped out the store to see what she might be getting into. “When I came in, I was in complete awe. The store, plus knowing what the organization did — it was super easy for me to want to be here. I was now pursuing them to make sure I got the position!”
Michele realized she wanted to be in a place where she was doing something she loved, but also doing it with a purpose. “In fact, I cried in my interview,” recalls Michele. “I was like, ‘I’m sorry I’m so emotional, but this is where I’m supposed to be!’”
First time guests at EveryStep Giving Tree are often surprised by the cleanliness of the items, as all clothes are steamed, dishes are washed and décor items are carefully cleaned. Michele credits former store manager Cheryll Halstead, who oversaw the store for 10 years. “I can’t thank Cheryll enough for setting the precedent for this store and allowing me to be her backfill. I appreciate the rapport she built with the community and I look forward to continuing that.”
One recent first-time guest commented upon entering that “this is not a thrift store – it’s an art gallery!” Michele loves to hear these comments directly or through store volunteers who pass them along. “I am passionate about the guest,” says Michele. “I love it when people from out of town tell us that when they’re in the area, this is one place they always hit.”
In addition to overseeing the guest experience, Michele personally goes through every item that comes in as a donation. “It’s something I look forward to,” says Michele. “I love seeing what comes in through that back door. It’s better than Christmas all day long!”
Michele is originally from eastern South Dakota, but has lived in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska and now, Iowa. “Family is super important to me. I have five kids, but four are grown and out of the house. I have five grandchildren and the closest lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.”
When she’s not working, Michele loves spending time with her three dogs – two golden retrievers and a beagle – and going to movies with her 13-year-old daughter that’s still at home. “Our weekends are spent going to movies, to church on Sunday and usually a brunch,” says Michele. She loves being out in the sun and enjoys hiking.
Michele says she looks forward to coming to work every day. “I’m just thankful to EveryStep for being here and getting the thrift store started. I have found my new passion and I have to be honest, I love my job — I just love my job!”
EveryStep Giving Tree thrift store helps carry out the EveryStep non-profit mission by directing all proceeds from thrift store sales toward programs and services which benefit EveryStep's patients, clients and their families. The store is open for shopping and donations Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
EveryStep Giving Tree gratefully accepts your donations of gently used furniture, clothing and accessories, home décor and household items. Donations may be dropped off at the back of the store at 3330 100th Street. If you have a large donation and are unable to arrange for a drop-off, please call us at 515-270-2414, as a free pick-up may be possible.
EveryStep Giving Tree is always looking for enthusiastic, energetic volunteers who can share at least four hours per week supporting EveryStep’s non-profit mission. To learn about the different ways you can volunteer your time, visit www.everystep.org/services/thrift-store.