“The Bargain Basket is the oldest thrift store on the Island,” Rainey said. “It opened for the first time in a former coin laundry on SR 951 in 1975. In 1978, then moved to a store at 525 Bald Eagle Drive, and twelve years later, moved to a larger site at the Island Professional Building. Finally, in 1995, the Basket moved to its present location in Lanai Plaza at 828 Bald Eagle Drive.”
The Thrift Store was the dream of its first manager, Betty Ringler, followed by Ruby Rutherford, who served as Manager for eight subsequent years. In 1989, Ann Hudnut became Manager, followed by Nancy Leisher, Cheryl Axelson, and most recently, Sandy Goldstein.
Susan Woods, a nine-year resident of Marco Island, is the new Store Manager. Wood, whose background in Illinois was design, said, “I have longed to direct my life towards mission work. This position for me couldn’t have been a better fit. I feel it is not only a win-win situation for me, but for the volunteers who have an opportunity to contribute, for the mission work of the church, and for the customers who walk away with treasures at a great price.”
Activity at the Bargain Basket has consistently demanded additional floor space over the years. In season, dozens of customers wait for the store to open at 10 a.m., and the parking lot remains full throughout the day. Nearly eighty volunteers, (not all members of the Church) work throughout the year, sorting, pricing, and maintaining displays. All proceeds go the Church and its missions.