Step through the doors of Promise Church in Waconia during the week and instead of finding the welcome center and sanctuary you’ll see racks of clothing, books, toys, and other used items for sale. What began as a ministry idea has grown into a full thrift store with multiple employees and volunteers. Trending Upward Thrift Shoppe exists “to love people by meeting their basic needs of clothing and home essentials.”
Pastor Mark and Diane Sullivan initially saw the store as a way of utilizing their church building outside of Sundays and Wednesdays, while providing an affordable option for anyone struggling to meet needs in Waconia. Now, it’s a vital connection for the community, as hundreds of people come through the doors of the shop each week.
Pastor Mark tells many stories of divine encounters that have taken place inside the store over the years. He has had theological conversations with customers, some even asking him for prayer while shopping. They display upcoming church events alongside retail signage and even have a prayer request jar that is often filled.
Trending Upward relies on donations from the community and stewards those gifts well. The team sorts through donations and tracks inventory and sales to determine what makes it to the racks. Some of the toys and children’s clothing are separated and sent straight to a local women’s center for moms of young kids. Other items have made their way to treatment centers, homeless shelters, and all the way to the country of Liberia. Rarely is a donation not put to good use.
Over the years the shop has financially given back to local charities including Gather and Grow (Waconia United Food Shelf), Backyard Wishes, Southern Valley Alliance, Launch Ministry and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and national organizations like Convoy of Hope and Operation Christmas Child.
In 2022, Trending Upward started a partnership called “Corners of Your Field” which allows donors to a local church or charity to benefit from their donation. Trending Upward gives store gift cards to those organizations to give to families in need.
The Trending Upward team always refines the process to make transitioning from church to store and vice versa as simple as possible. Though visible, the screen, drum cage, and sound booth are easily lost in the sea of inventory, while the sanctuary chairs are hidden in a storage closet. Every Saturday night all the mobile racks of merchandise are wheeled to a separate storeroom in preparation for Sunday.
It’s a unique approach to ministry, creating volunteer opportunities for local high school, transition students, college students, retirees, and even for those looking to fulfill community service hours. In early January, their biggest drop-off day brought in over 300 separate donations. God is using the store to show His love, and there are no signs of slowing down. It’s truly living up to its name and trending upward.