Future plans, restorations for the old Royal Cafe building in Virginia

Restoring the Royal Cafe building

Jackie's Attic Thrift Shop is restoring the old Royal Cafe building in Virginia in order to have space for storage to better serve the community.

As a Chaplain in Virginia, Daniel Triestman tends to get calls from people in the community who either need help or want to donate something they no longer need.

“I’d have someone come up to me and say, ‘Hey, we just got custody of her niece. We’re looking for a toddler bed. Do you know someone who’s got a toddler bed?’ We just did a funeral for some lady a week ago and we cleaned out her entire estate and we threw away a toddler bed,” said Triestman. “So I thought it would be great if we could just kind of store things and hang on to them until you run into someone who needs it.”

At first, Triestman and his wife started putting items in their garage. Realizing that space was too small, they bought a storefront to use for storing donations.

“We started collecting things and just putting them in this little storage area and after that, you know, people are dropping things off, picking things up and, you know, calling me, contacting me, and they will say, ‘well, when can I get into the little shop? You know, when can I get into your thrift store?’ I’m like, I guess we’re running a thrift store now,” said Triestman.

Triestman decided to name the store after his mother and thus, “Jackie’s Attic Thrift Shop” was born.

“Really, it’s a storage unit for social workers, treatment centers, the homeless shelter, the home health care for the area, nurses, police officers, they see some person who’s on the street who doesn’t have a blanket, come in, grab a blanket, grab some warm jackets, and and that’s really what it is,” explained Triestman. “But people are also coming in off the street, dropping things off, picking things up.”

Triestman’s daughter, Hadassah, has been helping out at Jackie’s Attic and will become the manager once she graduates high school this year. The thrift shop will take just about anything and does not have price tags on items.

“When people come in, it’s pay what you will or pay whatever you think is a good price,” explained Hadassah. “I’ve had a lot of people come in during the winter that need hat, gloves and scarves like that at one point we were like, ‘Oh, we don’t have a lot of gloves. People need gloves.’ We told someone who has brought donations to us constantly and they ask us, ‘What do you need?’ And I said, ‘Gloves’. The next day, I got gloves and there’s people being able to take gloves out. So that’s helpful on both sides.”

As word spread about Jackie’s Attic, a problem arose.

“We realized, and I didn’t know this when we’d start, that this really landed with the community. What we thought is we do this for a year and a half, go completely bankrupt and then find something else useful to do with our time,” said Triestman. “But people really liked it, and they started dropping things off and getting involved in this work. Then we ran into a much bigger problem: the need was so much greater and the resources were so much more available, and we just didn’t have a big enough space.”

Needing to expand, Triestman ended up buying the old Royal Cafe building on Chestnut Street. His friend Luke Sodeling owns Approve Plumbing and has been helping with the repairs.

“This is what happens when you get tired of telling Dan no. I figured, all right, there’s enough here for us to work with. There’s something that’s solid in this building,” said Sodeling. “It’s a good, old building built in the early 1900s, and we can really work with this. So that’s been the purpose, and the goal here is to try to make something out of an old building and make it useful for the community.”

Portions of the building were left alone for decades before the recent renovations began, but a lot of progress has been made so far. Triestman, Sodeling, and other volunteers worked to remove pigeons (both dead and alive) from the upstairs space and other necessary renovations.

“We’ve been going through and cleaning everything out and organizing stuff, finding what’s good and can be used in the thrift store and what just needs to be thrown away,” said Sodeling. “We’ve also gotten heat in here. We’ve been working on some of the plumbing waterlines, drain lines, things like that.”

Right now, Jackie’s Attic is using the space for storage as renovations continue. Plans for the future of the space are partially dependent on what can be done with any re-zoning of the building.

“I shoot really big. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to land, but I would love to do a warming house. We have a bunch of apartments upstairs. We love to do emergency housing. We love to move the thrift store over here instead of where it’s at right now, but we don’t know exactly how any of those things are going are going to work,” said Triestman.

More work has to be done before it can be used as anything other than storage, such as replacing roofs and installing bathrooms.

“I truly believe that if we get this building in a situation where it’s usable, it’ll be used and will be used well,” said Triestman.

Information on how to donate can be found on the Jackie’s Attic website or by emailing Daniel Triesman at danieltriestman@yahoo.com.