Aunt Millie’s Bakery Thrift Store finds new home in Niles
NILES — Since finding a new home on the Michigan side of the state line last week, Aunt Millie’s Bakery Thrift Store has been a popular destination for locals looking for bargain bread, sweets and snacks.
Lori Dorman, of Peru, Indiana, the company’s district manager, said Friday that the store has seen positive customer turnout since it opened last Monday.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Dorman said. “It’s been beyond our expectations. Usually, we expect when we open to be slow.”
Her statement was exemplified Friday by a bustling parking lot, filled with customers eager to check out the new location’s bargains. Inside the store, some customers filled their shopping carts to the maximum with the products.
Aunt Millie’s bread products can be seen on grocery store shelves around Michiana. But at Aunt Millie’s Bakery Thrift Store, customers get a special deal on bread and different products. That’s because the “day old bread” that is not purchased by the sell by dates at local supermarkets is sent to Aunt Millie’s, where it can be purchased at a discounted rate of at least 50 percent.
“The shelf life still has several days, so we bring it here and sell it at a discount,” Dorman said.
Aunt Millie’s bread loaves go for 89 cents a package, while the more specialty bread like the best grains and ryes go for $1.49 a loaf. Customers can also find eight-pack buns for 50 cents each.
“We also bring in some outside vendors to make it fun, keep it interesting and make it worth the trip,” Dorman said.
Because customers never know quite what deals they will find, Dorman likened the shopping experience to that of a treasure hunt.
“It’s the best of both worlds. They can go to the grocery store and have the consistent variety that is going to have a little longer shelf life and they have the convenience, or if they are looking for a bargain, they can come here,” Dorman said.
Aunt Millie’s Bakery Thrift Store operated for 26 years in South Bend. In that time, Dorman said the business outgrew the location. The building at 2825 S. 11th St. offered more room and was ideal because it is located along a major road.
“The space was exactly what we needed, it was a great, busy road,” Dorman said. “It was just a win-win.”
It took about four weeks to renovate the formerly vacant building, including installing new floors and a few other minor interior features.
The four part-time employees who worked at the South Bend location were transferred to the Niles store. Because the store is larger, one additional part-time employee will be hired to help operate the business.
On Monday, the business will have a special sale. Bread loaves for 89 cents will sell for 75 cents and best grains bread for $1.49 will be on sale for 95 cents.
Offering discounted bread that still has a shelf life, but no home at the grocery store is also a method for reducing food waste, which Dorman said is part of the company’s core belief.
“Very little of what we produce goes to waste,” Dorman said.
Last year, she said the organization donated about 50,000 loaves of bread to charity.
Aunt Millie’s Bakery Thrift Shop is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information visit, auntmillies.com.