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White Elephant to close, ITOW building changes in store

Submitted photo A conceptual drawing of how the In Their Own Words Veterans Museum could appear along Main Street in the future, including a flat panel mural that appears three-dimensional.

Bargain shoppers will suffer a loss this fall, with the closing of The White Elephant Thrift Store.

Located inside the In Their Own Words (ITOW) Veterans Museum building in Perham, The White Elephant has become known for its ultra-cheap deals on vintage items.

Starting Tuesday, Aug. 5 and until the store closes, everything will be offered at half price.

Darla Ellingson, CEO of the History and Cultural Association, which manages the veterans museum, said closing the store will allow for a reworking of that space, to make it more visually appealing and financially viable.

“We’re looking to improve the space and are reviewing different tenant options,” she said.

Two phases of conceptual drawings show how the building could take on a more dynamic appearance.

“There is no sign, no exterior lighting – the building looks closed. We’re looking at how to make the whole building more active, including the possibility of adding back in a catering component for events here and at the Pioneer Village,” Ellingson said.

Inside the thrift store space, the association plans on painting, improving the floor and fixing overhead lights. Volunteers are welcome to join the effort.

“Improving the space will make the museum operation in the other portion of the building more financially viable,” said Ellingson, who added that there has already been interest from potential tenants. “We could use a few more hands from anyone with carpentry or skills from other construction trades.”

Further improvements will depend on what types of tenants occupy the space.

The crumbling monument in the parking lot will also be coming down. The Perham VFW will start removing it Aug. 23, and plan to preserve the key elements to relocate elsewhere. Two locations on the property are being considered for a new monument, including one inside the museum.

“We’d like to improve the parking lot and expand the event space in the building,” said Ellingson. “The list is pretty long, but the thrift store space is a priority.”

The hours for The White Elephant close-out sale are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1-4 p.m. each week in August.

The store is now only accepting donations of vintage and collectible items and small furniture pieces. Volunteers will be holding a sale of vintage items and antique dolls at Pioneer Village during Pioneer Fest on Aug. 16, starting at 11 a.m. All proceeds benefit museum operations.

For more information, contact Ellingson at or 346-7678.