Steeple People, the Minneapolis thrift store that closed in March after 37 years, will reopen in February not far from its former site.

"We feel passionately about engaging with the community and doing something for the community," said Anne Lippin, one of the nonprofit's board members who has been actively searching for a new location for over a year.

Last December, Steeple People leaders said they were searching for a new location, but that rent in most commercial spaces was too expensive. The former location at the southwest corner of Franklin and Lyndale avenues in Minneapolis was razed to make way for apartments.

"It was a community meeting place, a haven, and a support system for customers and volunteers," Heidi Ritter, another board member, said.

Several weeks ago, they found a suitable spot at 1901 Nicollet Av., about a half-mile from the former location.

"Anne and I had filled our garages and Anne's parents' garage with clothing racks and various display racks," Ritter said. "Our husbands got together and said, 'You have got to do something with this stuff, ladies.' "

Customers grew used to the old space in a former auto garage, which had poor lighting, rickety stairs and an oddly decrepit charm that included squirrel break-ins.

The new location will be named Old School by Steeple People. "We chose Old School because it should feel like an old-school charity event," Lippin said.

It's a volunteer-driven organization that is affiliated with Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. Money from Old School will fund the church's missions, including local help for the homeless and neighborhood programs such as Dignity Center.

Ritter signed a 10-year lease on the 5,200-square-foot space, about the same size as the former location. The difference is that the selling floor is on one level with a large wall of windows along Nicollet and a dozen parking spaces near the entrance.

Linda Bernin, a longtime customer, said she appreciates a thrift store of a smaller size. "It's not a huge place like Savers, but it's more manageable. Steeple People always had reasonably priced coats and books," she said. "I'd donate some things and buy some things."

Volunteers have collected many nearly new clothing racks and fixtures for the new store. "We shopped the last few days of Macy's downtown sale when they were practically giving things away," she said. "We got five carts, six cafe tables and a lot of chrome racks."

Despite the more upscale look of the place, Lippin is insistent that prices will remain competitive and in line with the neighborhood. "Heidi and I love thrift stores," she said. "We keep our finger on the pulse of thrift-store prices. We'll still have coffee mugs for 50 cents."

Lippin said they hope to be able to start accepting clothing, household and small furniture donations in January, but the opening date depends on the remodeling contractors' progress. "February is a really hard time to open a retail business, but we're determined," Ritter said.

Steeplepeople.org will be updated soon with more details.