In August 1967, the Stop and Shop, a thrift store operated by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Post No. 7928, opened its doors at 134 E. Lincoln Ave.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
According to a Lincoln Sentinel article published in 1981, the opening was a dream come true for auxiliary members who had been raising funds for their organization by holding rummage and bake sales in the VFW Hall for several years. Following each sale, all leftover clothes and household items were hauled up the hall stairs where they were stored until the next sale.
A decade after the original opening, the creamery next door closed. Once that building was purchased, a doorway was created to access what is called the East Room, which nearly doubled the shop’s size.
A half-century later, the basic operation and purpose of the shop remain the same. The store is manned by volunteers, and the profits are used to support local charitable projects. Many of those dollars are donated to the state and national levels of the VFW and VFW Auxiliary to support projects benefitting the country’s veterans.
Emma (Walters) Lewick, who was interviewed for the 1981 article, devoted many hours to the shop. Lewick said she found the work fascinating, and the reason why she put so much time and effort into the business was simple.
“The veterans,” she said. “I want to do something for the veterans.”
This was not surprising, as Lewick was a five-star mother during World War II.
Currently, the shop is managed by auxiliary members Deb Ortiz and Pat Florence, and assisted by other member volunteers who work at least one three-hour shift per week.
Looking back on the shop’s history, Ortiz and Florence believe the founders would be pleased the store is not only viable after 50 years, but the income allowed the auxiliary to continue to support a variety of causes, including those benefitting veterans.
“I like to think the ladies who founded the shop would be proud of what the store has become, and how we continue to use the funds earned to support causes that were important to them,” Ortiz said. “Last year, the shop’s income allowed us to donate over $9,000 to worthy causes.”
The shop and the surrounding community continue to have a mutually beneficial relationship – it provides a place to donate household goods no longer needed, and shoppers benefit from the availability of bargain-priced items from clothing and holiday decorations to household items and small tools.
An interesting side note, the current staff boasts four of Lewick’s relatives, including daughter, Betty (Lewick) Crawford; granddaughter, Ardith (Lewick) Kruckenberg; and great nieces, Pat Florence and Deb Ortiz, whose maternal grandfather, Nolan Walters, was Emma’s brother.
The Stop and Shop is, for these ladies, a fascinating place to work as well as a family tradition.
Article from the Lincoln Sentinel