An Inside Look
New Life Thrift
A Source of Kindness
By Linda Sutherland
Let’s talk about human kindness for a moment. By “human kindness,” I mean being caring, compassionate, and unconditionally kind. It takes practice to understand it and to feel it, but kind acts can mean different things to different people. It can be through empathy, acceptance, thoughtfulness, and kind gestures. One thing for sure is that human kindness can be learned and even inspired. Someone who inspires human kindness for many is Steve Sheridan, the director of New Life Thrift.
Steve is the kind of man who cherishes each and every day that he can help those in need. This man with the big heart happily runs New Life Thrift with his three daughters and a great group of dedicated employees. Many of these employees have been at New Life Thrift for an average of seven to eight years, which is no small feat in this day and age! One reason for this longevity? The mission. “Our business supports The Hope Center for Kids in north Omaha,” says Steve. “The Center offers a safe place for kids to stay off the streets after school to receive tutoring and enjoy activities.”
Steve got started in the thrift business 16 years ago. His goal is to bring new life to gently used items and to old things that can be treasures to others. “It gives me great joy to provide a wonderful shopping experience for our customers. We have furniture, collectibles, clothing, shoes, appliances—everything you could possibly need. We even have a holiday Christmas section. Our store is very clean and organized, which enhances the shopping experience.”
This is Steve’s calling, and he is happy to be part of New Life Thrift. Steve graduated from Omaha Cathedral High and spent his early years in the hotel business. He met his wife while working in the hotel industry, and they moved to Iowa City to work at a hotel in town. Later, he and his wife moved back to Omaha to work in car sales. Steve sold a car to the previous owner, Sam Costanzo, of New Life Thrift, and the rest, as they say, is history.
New Life Thrift is not Steve’s only service to the community. He also serves at Empty Tomb Ministries. The church at Empty Tomb is where members of other Omaha-based churches come together to help those in need. Steve’s desire to help people is a driving force in his life. Pastoring in the inner city is a passion that Steve lives every day. The Empty Tomb provides food, clothing, classes, and spiritual support to anyone who is in peril. Members of churches in the area volunteer and provide essentials that are important to all humankind.
The courage and determination that Steve and the volunteers provide is such a necessary calling. Most of us know that the circumstances of human beings can change rather quickly, and the people at Empty Tomb are happily taking the necessary action. Basic day-to-day human needs are provided, as well as fellowship and direction. Steve offers the same kindness and empathy at New Life Thrift that he offers at Empty Tomb. From time to time, people will come into the store and ask him to pray for someone in their family or a friend.
When you walk into New Life Thrift, you will always be greeted with a smile and some lovely retail therapy. Steve likes to play upbeat and inspiring music for his customers. As an added bonus, the store smells great! The store gets a good deal of traffic, so there are always new items to take in. When I asked Steve about some of his most memorable donations, he told me about “a first-generation Barbie that was still in the box. Extremely rare indeed.” He once received a collection of pigs that was quite extensive. “We just never know what we will receive,” he says. Somehow, their generous donors have always provided whatever they needed.
I asked Steve what he loves most about being the store director, and he had no trouble finding his answer. “Seeing people happy and really excited about what they found in the store,” he says. I bet those same people return again and again to see what new treasures they can find!
Steve’s advice for anyone wanting to start a business is to learn about the industry and the market, but the most important thing, he says, is to be passionate about whatever you choose to do. Never stop learning!
New Life Thrift is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and is located at 7007 South 36th Street in Bellevue. To find them online, go to newlifethrift.net or call them at 402-731-9311 for more information.
Steve Sheridan, Director