The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 20, 2013

Hopp's hope

Say hello to the newest thrift store on the block. But this one's a little different.

Say hello to the newest thrift store on the block.

But this one’s a little different.

Hopp’s Thrift Store isn’t run by a nonprofit. And it isn’t filled with racks of used clothing or furniture. Instead, it’s geared toward a different clientele. Car stereos, crescent wrenches, saw blades, cables, laptop computers.

Across the front door as you walk in are the words: “Specializing in what guys want.”

Proprietor Jeff Hopp, 44, opened the doors of his business in January. Since then, he said, sales have grown steadily.

“My goal is to get my income up to where I don’t have to rely on Social Security,” Hopp said. “And we just had our first month of breaking even.”

Oh … Did we mention Hopp is battling Parkinson’s? And that he has a pair of electrodes drilled down into the center of his brain?

So, yeah. Not your typical thrift shop, not your typical thrift shop owner.

“I expected him to succeed,” says his mom, Jean Hopp, who in her retirement has taken to working in the shop with her son.

Jeff Hopp grew up in the country and spent some of his childhood working at a nearby dairy farm. After graduating high school, he went to work setting up mobile homes for Countryside Homes. Eventually he went to what is now South Central College and became an electronic technician.

He worked at IBM for 15 months and then went back to school at Minnesota State University where he earned a degree in electrical engineering. Degree in hand, he found a job in the Twin Cities.

He worked in North St. Paul for several years before being laid off. His wife also lost her job.

At about this time, Hopp says, he began to suffer from migraines. He sought medical attention and was given medication to help. But the side effects sent him back to his doctor with a laundry list of what the drug was doing to him: He was moving slowly, his memory, cognitive skills and balance were diminished, he was having unexplainable tremors in his thumb.

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