DHI Media Correspondent
VAN WERT — Janet Bell, store manager for the Salvation Army Thrift Store, has no doubt these days that that all the turns in life’s road have led her to her present position.
It has been one and a half years since Bell answered the call to serve as the store’s manager. Prior to that, she was the front end manager of a local grocery store. At the time, her husband, Ken, was the meat cutter at the Triangle Super Value and she was considered to be the head cashier.
“They needed somebody with management experience here,” said Bell, who came to the area from Virginia when she was 14-years-old. “I’ve always just loved thrift stores. Sometimes I have found myself in three different thrift stores a day. I knew I didn’t need anything. I realized that the Lord was training me all along and I didn’t know it,” added Bell.
Earlier on, Bell had worked as a teller at a Peoples/Norwest Bank and Three Rivers Credit Union.
“Once again, the Lord used the experience gained there to help me in my work here,” observed Bell. “Retail and banking experience had both supplied the experience needed. I am awed that God could take these small things and make them work together for good even at this stage of life.”
Bell said that some of the most important tenants of managing the store include making sure that her customers are treated kindly and that her products are priced fairly and give good value. She noted that she is always looking for ways to stretch the store’s budget and yet try to hold prices down.
She said that there are a couple of major mission-oriented reasons for the store’s existence. First of all, money made available through sales is available to Major Arthur Barter to use in the local ministry of the Salvation Army. Profits are there to be accessed for the general ministry of the organization.
Second, said Bell, the sales of products in the store are geared to help those with need in the local community. Clothes, hardware items, books and everyday home-use items are sold in order to help those with financial and family needs in the area.
These days, Ken Bell is the pastor of the Church of Pentecost in Van Wert. Janet Bell was born in Rose Hill, Virginia and then grew up close to Richmond, Va. Her maternal grandmother had been from Van Wert. After her grandfather passed away, her family relocated back in Van Wert in 1967.
Her husband, who had been in the Navy, was originally from the Spencerville area but both Ken and Janet graduated from Van Wert High School. Janet was 16-years-old when they met. They worked together for five years before they were married on May 9, 1976. These days, with Janet working in the ministry of the Salvation Army Store and Ken serving a local church, the store manager feels like all facets of life have come together to be in service exactly where God wants her to be.
“I love what I do; I love coming to work and I love the co-workers,” observed Bell. “I get to know the customers and we become close. We understand each other’s needs and concerns in life. I’m glad I stayed in this county. I feel that any profit we make is for a good cause. I love to do all I can to help those with need in Van Wert County,” Bell said.