Melissa Bible said she loves to travel, loves to read and loves to tinker around in her yard.
The 61-year-old St. Clair area resident also said she loves her current job as a business owner.
Bible opened the Three Sisters retail shop in Stanton about 2-1/2 years ago on what she called “a whim.” But, she admits that basically is how she has lived what she calls a successful and good life.
“My life has not gone in any one direction. It has not been preplanned,” she said. “But, I’ve been taken down these paths and it’s worked out. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had a pretty good life. I just didn’t really plan ahead to get this good life.”
The latest step in Bible’s “good life” is her retail shop business.
Three Sisters is located on the Interstate 44 North Service Road just west of the Stanton 230-mile marker exit. It opened in October 2009 shortly after Bible was traveling from her job at that time in Sullivan to her Lake St. Clair home.
“I worked at a retail shop in Sullivan,” she said. “On my way home one day, I saw this empty building and stopped. I liked how it looked, called the owners and they agreed to rent it to me so I could open my own store.
“I stopped by on a whim. I never really considered myself a business owner or a boss, but I thought, ‘Why not?’”
Bible said she knew right away she wanted the store to be a retail shop since she had experience working in one and she knew it would have a good chance of being successful.
And, successful the business has been.
“It’s done better than I anticipated,” she said. “And we’re talking about being in Stanton where there’s really nothing around. I get people from about Washington to Rolla, and even some from St. Louis.”
The business is operated on a consignment basis, meaning individuals bring items in for her to sell and she splits the money with them when the merchandise is purchased. The store features all kinds of furniture, clothing, utensils, kitchenware, knickknacks, women’s items and more.
“The only thing I thought about it being was a resale shop,” Bible said. “And the easiest way to get one going is on a consignment basis. You don’t have to buy merchandise. You can basically just get going without a lot of expense.”
And, Bible and Three Sisters got going in a hurry.
“I’m coming up to having 1,100 consigners now,” she said. “Just about all of my business has come through word of mouth. Retail stores can be successful even in a tough economy because people always need to buy things. Being able to get good, quality used merchandise at a good price can be tough to beat.
“The store has been all I thought it would be and more. I enjoy it. It’s fun.”
Bible gives much of her enjoyment credit to her three employees — Amanda Mantle, Amy Volner and Carolyn Kline.
“I have the three absolutely best employees in the world,” she said. “They help make the difference, make the business successful and make it fun.”
She said her two favorite things about running the shop are seeing what merchandise moves from day to day and being able to arrange furniture items in a room setting.
“You never know what people will bring in and what people buy,” she said. “I just love seeing what people bring in to sell.
“And I love setting up the various rooms with the different items. People like it because they can kind of see how something may look like in their house.”
Bible did say there is no real rhyme or reason to what sells and what doesn’t.
“Some things you don’t thing will sell will and others you think will sell won’t.”
She specifically referred to a recent day when an individual brought in an old pantry-type closet that looked like an outhouse.
“I told the person not to bring that in. I didn’t want it,” she said. “But, before the person left, I had several people looking at it and wanting it. We sold it.”
Bible said clothing, furniture and women’s accessories seem to move better in general.
“We’re getting a good reputation for having quality furniture,” she said. “And people always need clothing. And, if I sell nothing else all day, I sell a few purses. Women who don’t have a lot of money to spend still can come in here and buy themselves something like a purse. It just makes them feel a little better.”
Bible said owning the store keeps her busy during the day and provides her with a little income until she officially retires.
“I’m so glad I did this,” she said. “I have no immediate plans to leave, but some day I will. I want to really retire while I can still enjoy doing the other things I love to do.”
Before Three Sisters
In 2007, Bible retired from her job with the state of Missouri where she worked in children’s services. It was then when she returned to St. Clair, where she graduated from high school in 1968.
She was born in Indiana but has spent almost all of her life in Missouri. After graduating from SCHS, she got married in 1969 and moved to Sullivan. Her husband served in the military and the duo spent a couple of years in Panama, but then returned to the Show Me State.
Bible and her husband later divorced. They have no children.
She returned to St. Clair in 1977 and stayed until 1993. She landed her job with the state in 1983 “and did all kinds of things” associated with children’s services. Bible said she was a case worker, a supervisor, a county director and finally an administrator.
“I handled child abuse and neglect cases,” she said. “For a time, I was the individual over that (division).”
Bible applied for a position with the state “because I really needed a job.”
She said the business she was working for at the time shut down, forcing her to look elsewhere for employment.
“I wanted a good, steady job with benefits,” she said. “Like everything else, this worked out.
“Working for the state in this capacity became my career.”
Her career eventually forced her to move to Mexico, Mo., in 1993 and then to St. Joseph in 1996, where she said “I had no real connections.
“When I retired, I wanted to go somewhere else, and St. Clair seemed like home,” Bible said. “I knew people here. I had friends. So, I thought, ‘Why not?’
“St. Clair isn’t a big town. It has a laid-back attitude. It’s comfortable. I feel safe. It’s not far from St. Louis.
“It’s a good place to settle. I like it here.”
But, Bible doesn’t stick around the area 24/7.
“I’m a traveler,” she said. “I’ve been to a lot of places, and I love them all.”
She specifically mentioned Ireland and Amsterdam.
“Ireland is so beautiful. You just can’t imagine it if you haven’t been there,” she said. “And my ancestors are from Amsterdam. I love going over there.”
In fact, Bible said she has a trip planned to Amsterdam, Paris and Germany in the near future.
“I try to take one big and a couple of smaller trips every year,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of places on my list.”
Her other passions are reading and yard work.
“I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember,” Bible said. “I still have the first books I got when I was 3 years old. I put my name in the front of them and kept them.”
She said she probably reads at least 100 books a year.
As far as her yard, Bible said she is big flower and garden fan and spends a lot of time outdoors with both.
“I just enjoy tinkering in the yard,” she said. “I really enjoy that.”
Bible said she is satisfied with what she has accomplished during her life so far.
“I’m proud of my career with children’s services,” she said. “I never had kids of my own, but I had the opportunity to work with foster kids and adoptions. I’m happy that I worked to try to make a difference in these lives, in the lives of children and families.
“It’s been worthwhile for me. I feel good about it. I’m glad my life took that path. I’m thinking that line of work was always meant to be.
“I hope I made a positive impact. That job just fit me, but I didn’t know that going into it. I had no idea I would end up being a social worker, but once I started, I became passionate about it. It was a very tough job but if I had to do it all over I would do it again.”
Bible continued talking about her life.
“My big niche in life was dealing with child abuse and neglect cases,” she said. “My little niche has been this store.
“I feel like what I’ve done has been the right thing. I had no regrets with working for child services and I have no regrets now. I have this good little place.
“I get to work at a place I enjoy. I get to travel. And I get to go home at the end of the day and read a good book.
“Life is good.”