Sunday, November 17, 2019
Gold Mine Consign Brings the Tale of a Mom and Daughter Full Circle
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Lara Spencer has hundreds of items to catalog to get ready for Gold Mine Consign's reopening on Saturday.
 
Sunday, November 3, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

When Dottie Spencer began losing the ability to take care of herself, it was the Community Library that she turned to for help.

Now, in a serendipitous turn of affairs, her daughter Lara Spencer is returning the favor.

Lara Spencer, who operated The Dollhouse consignment store in the Wood River Valley for years, has joined The Community Library team as its new Gold Mine Consign manager. And she’s using her fashion flair and merchandising expertise to create a new look and feel to the store, which will have a grand reopening celebration from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.

She’s excited about how the store helps people recycle perfectly good, often luxurious, clothing and other items. But she’s even more excited about the way it will provide funding for The Community Library, which relies on grants, donations and income from The Gold Mine and Gold Mine Consign stores to operate.

The Gold Mine Consign is truly a gold mine opportunity to support the library. It also offers sellers a chance to make money recycling and buyers a chance to afford quality that they might not otherwise be able to afford,” she said.

“I couldn’t afford a $4,000 jacket, but I might be able to afford to pay $200 or $300 for that jacket if I really love it,” she said. “As for the library it’s a nonprofit. And I don’t think the community realizes that it’s a hand-to-mouth operation. Last year its total operating expenses were $1.945 million dollars and its total operating income $2.077 million.”

Lara Spencer opened a boutique consign store in a charming red house she called The Dollhouse when she first moved to Ketchum in 2006. When the city demolished it to create a parking lot, she reopened another store several blocks further north. Eventually, she expanded to Main Street Hailey.

Then, when she realized her mother was struggling with dementia, she decided to close the store to care for her mother.

“My mother was sick with dementia for two years before I realized it,” said Spencer. “One day she asked me for a lot of money to pay her bills. I found out that she had been without lights and power, that her refrigerator had been turned off and she had no heat. She hadn’t paid her bills in two years—they were sitting in a pile because she couldn’t figure out how to deal with them. I had no idea—she had seemed functional.”

Dottie Spencer had moved to Sun Valley from Alaska to help take care of Lara’s brother Michael and his two children after his wife died. She worked as an interior designer for Sun Valley Rug & Tile. And she took up residence across from the library.

“After she began suffering from dementia, she’d come over to the library and say, ‘Can I charge my phone?’ And ‘I’m cold. Can I sit by the fireplace?’ So now I’m giving back to them,” Lara Spencer said.

 Spencer has been working in near-panic mode since Oct. 4 behind newsprint-covered windows to create a new look for the store’s high-end clothing, jewelry and household décor.

“I’m creating a new beginning, painting, scrubbing floors, redesigning the layout, hanging racks—all with my pink screwdriver and pink hammer,” she said. “I’m even redoing the data part of the operation so we can let those who bring us items know that those items are being valued.”

The new Gold Mine Consign, which sits across from the Community Library one block north of the Gold Mine thrift store, will have a range of price points from $4.99 for a junior top to $4,000 for a sable mink coat so there’s something for everyone, Spencer said.

“That’s the goal—everyone needs to feel welcome,” she added. “Anyone can create a consignment store. Not everyone can create an experience. I try to make everyone feel like they’re the only one.”

Spencer recently got her mother into a memory care home near Salt Lake City where her sister lives—a key factor enabling her to take the reins of Gold Mine Consign.

She and library officials will cut the ribbon on the store at 10 a.m. Saturday with a toast. Nibbles and bites will be available throughout the day.

“I talked to my mother after I took the position and told her how I was hoping to give back to the library for how they helped her,” Spencer said. “She was present in that moment and she gave me a big hug and said, ‘This is what love is!’ ”

Spencer paused, tears in her eyes.

“I don’t know what to say to God. It’s all a miracle! And I’m where I’m supposed to be right now.”

Spencer lauded the Wood River Valley’s penchant for taking care of one another.

“I come from Alaska where everybody dies at 50 below zero. So, you have to depend on one another. And, if someone’s car breaks down, you pick that person up and drive them somewhere to get them warm. You have to take care of one another. And I know, if my car were to break down here, someone would pull over and pick me up fairly quickly. I know I’m not alone. That’s why this community fits me.”

GOLD MINE CONSIGN REOPENS

The Gold Mine Consign will reopen with a ribbon cutting and toast at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. That will be followed by nibbles and bites throughout 6 p.m.

Thereafter, the store will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Those with clothes to sell get 50 percent of the sale rice with the other 50 percent going to the library. Of course, they can choose to donate the entire sale.

Gold Mine Consign is taking appointments for consignments at 208-726-5544.

The library relied on donations from the Gold Mine thrift store when it opened 64 years ago. The Gold Mine Consign has augmented the thrift store’s contributions, making it possible for the library to serve 125,000 visitors a year with free print and digital resources, educational programs, community meeting spaces and an historic archive and museum.

The library, which expects its renovation to be completed by the end of November, receives no

 

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