Faces in the Crowd: Victor and Becky Cron

March 23, 2020

Victor and Becky Cron

A few weeks ago, I decided that I needed a new black winter jacket to match the new pork pie hat that I had just purchased, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I noticed a new business opened at 1395 N. McEwan Street in Clare called Nifty Is Thrifty Second Hand Shop, right next to Woods Furniture Store. I decided to check them out. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything that fit properly, but I was told more winter jackets were coming in in a couple of days. I check back about a week later and found the perfect jacket in excellent condition. When I was told the price — $7.50 – I was quite surprised, because it would easily cost more than $50 in a clothing store. So I bought it. I felt like I was stealing without committing a crime.

At the time of the purchase, I began talking with the owners, Victor and Becky Cron, who opened the business on August 19, 2019. They mentioned that most people in Clare weren’t even aware of their existence yet, being so new, so I asked them for an interview, and they agreed to one that took place a few days later in their shop. In addition, they just recently joined the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, and they expect to update their Facebook site periodically.

Victor Cron was born in 1967 in Flint, while his wife, Becky was born in 1972 in Traverse City. Victor graduated from Hamady High School in Flint in 1984. Becky attended a couple of different schools in Traverse City through the 9th grade, when she became a teenaged mom.

Victor joined the Army in 1987 and was stationed at Fort Ord, California, as a Food Specialist for 3 years. During this time he received the Army Achievement Medal for Food Service Excellence signed by President George W. Bush. After leaving the service in April of 1990, he was recalled to Active Duty in the 425th Transportation Army Reserves to serve in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. In fact, the day he received notice to return to service was the same day his first wife died. When he was released from service, he received an award for Food Service Excellence signed by Ronald Reagan. When he was released from service, he was and is now a service-connected disabled veteran, having suffered from smoke inhalation and a bad back injury while serving.

He attended Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, acquiring a degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts, where he was an Honors grad.

He worked in a number of restaurants, including Kentucky Fried Chicken and Wendy’s. He was also a chef at Bowers Harbor Inn, a fine dining restaurant in Traverse City. In another job, he worked as a chef at the Amway Grand Plaza, a 5-star hotel in Grand Rapids. In Kingsley, Michigan, he was employed as a chef at the Kingsley Golf Course, which is an exclusive course that requires a $5.000 membership.

From 2001 to 2005 Victor worked for Radio Shack, where he was a top Sales Manager for 3 years for Western Michigan. He also helped to open and manage another Radio Shack franchise in Elk Rapids, Michigan.

Becky says when she was a little girl, most girls enjoyed having tea parties. But not her. Instead, she played at operating a thrift store. In addition to raising 5 kids, she also worked for a few years at the Comedy Club in Traverse City as a bartender and waitress. On another job, she also worked as a cashier for Admiral Discount Tobacco in Traverse City.

Victor and Becky married in June of 2010. Becky met Victor at his Mom’s house on April 12, 2009. In fact, Victor remembers every single detail of that day. It was the third marriage for the both of them. From previous marriages Victor had five children and Becky had three. Together, there are four boys and 4 girls, and they range from 18 to 30 years of age.

The first few years of this century were not good years for either Victor or Becky. Becky had a stroke in 2004 and received multiple back surgeries on her lower back from 2004 to 2009, and she has another surgery scheduled this month. Victor experienced a series of surgeries from 2010 to 2015. In turn, this limited the kinds of work they could perform. Both of them have experienced poverty and the struggle to make ends meet. Both of them know how children are either bullied or teased when they go to school with shabby or even torn clothes or worn-out shoes. They also realize that Clare County is one of the poorest counties in Michigan. They decided to relocate to Clare and play a role in the community in trying to solve, or at least assist in solving, the poverty problem.

Victor and Becky opened Nifty Is Thrifty Second Hand Shop on August 19, 2019. There are two ways they receive items that they sell: through donations or by buying from individuals. About one half of the store consists of clothing, but not cheap clothing. Most of the clothing is high-end brand names that are sold for extremely reasonable and easily affordable prices, even kids clothing, so your kids won’t get picked on in school. Of course, all clothing is washed and ensured to have no defects before being sold. They are also willing to offer discounts on large purchases. Veterans and their families receive 10% discounts every day above any other discounts already offered in the shop.

In the other half of the store, you can find a wide variety of other items, including jewelry, knickknacks, housewares, books, small furniture, pictures, shoes, Indian pottery, collector’s plates, and small appliances – all at incredibly reasonable prices. Right now, they even have a telescope for sale at $60, which sells used for $200 or more. A pair of high-end slacks in mint condition goes for $6. My new winter jacket was only $7.50.

Victor’s pet peeve is disorganization. He likes to keep everything in the store in its place, readily located on a moment’s notice.

Most people don’t know it, but Victor has a special talent: He remembers anything to do with numbers, and he remembers it forever.

If they could be anywhere else but here, right this minute, they would be in Tennessee with their grandkids.

How would Victor and Becky like to be remembered? As giving people; as people looking out for the community. They proceeded to give me a few examples that occurred over the past few months. They donated to a Mt. Pleasant family whose young son died. One man had his clothes stolen while riding a bus, and they fixed him up with a wardrobe of clothing. The same man, at another time, needed a winter coat, so they gave him one. They have purchased toys and shoes for parents who could not afford them for their kids. They have donated towels, blankets, cleaning supplies, and a gas card for a man who experienced a house fire. Every Christmas, they adopt as least two families, and then buy literally everything on their kids’ Christmas lists, including clothing, toys, and in one case, a set of wireless headphones.

In three words, Victor describes himself as “Confident, Arrogant, and Loving.” Becky describe herself as “Giving, Protecting, and Caring.”

I asked them what they would like to accomplish before they died. They responded, “To own our own home.”

A goal they would like to accomplish within the next year is “to grow the business.”

One of the best compliments they ever received came from a patron at the shop who said, “It smells so good and looks so clean here.”

When they’re not working, they love being with their family members. They also loved playing cards with Becky’s mom. Both Victor and Becky are very much family oriented. In fact, their own adopted motto is “Family First.”

If you’d like to donate any of the items mentioned in this article, or if you’d like to purchase them, please check out Victor and Becky’s Second Hand Shop, especially if you can’t afford high prices. If you don’t see what you need, tell them; they just might have it stored off the premises. Both are great conversationalists as well as being kind-hearted folks. They do have a website: www.niftyisthriftysecondhandshop.com They can be e-mailed at niftyisthrifty@gmail.com

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