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Retirees start small business, make big changes at Westminster

A small business venture at the Westminster at Lake Ridge retirement community has helped to provide its residents with equipment and recreational facilities.

Eethel Johnson – a 93-year old Westminster resident – and some other residents at the facility came up with the idea to open up a thrift store named Encore on the premises in 2001.

“We thought it might be fun to start a thrift shop, so we were allotted some space in the building. And another lady and myself heard that a shop was closing in Occoquan, so we went there and bought shelving, and the clothes racks and their cash register. And with that we were in business,” said Johnson.

From the very beginning the store has been a big success.

“Even that first year, we made $10,000 – which shocked us. Because we thought it was going to take years to get that much money. But business has grown a little bit every year, and now there is a staff of about 20 volunteers,” Johnson commented.

According to Johnson, they mainly sell furniture and women’s clothing. The store has made almost $350,000 to date.

With the money raised from Encore, Johnson and her cohorts have been able to contribute to Westminster and purchase things the living community needs.

“Every cent goes back into the [Westminster] community. We have an account from which we draw, and most of the money goes to the health center, but we do buy things for independent living too,” said Johnson.

One of the newest purchases the store has been able to make for Westminster is a new outdoor gazebo area.

“We had another gazebo previously, and it was about to fall down. So we thought it would be a good thing to spend some money on, and we have a beautiful new gazebo,” said Johnson.

Additionally, they have purchased televisions, lifts for disabled residents, treadmills and other amenities that have benefited the community and its residents.

All residents in Westminster, as well as outside community residents are open to visit the shop, which is open 8 hours a week.

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