Opening its doors nearly a year ago, Belleville’s Thrift Store recently passed the $50,000 mark in profits. All have been donated to a local faith-based school, Belleville Christian School, the store supports.
Volunteer manager Tineke Bouma hopes the store’s one-year anniversary on May 28 can be celebrated with another $10,000 donation to the school.
But it’s not just financial outcomes that make this an exciting time for the store.
In an earlier OACS News article, Bouma shared how this effort provides opportunities for herself and fellow volunteers to bless others. She was reminded that this is indeed happening when several weeks ago she happened to meet a young woman who had come in as a customer last fall and ended up having Bouma pray with her. The woman remembered her and told her that prayer — for custody of her child — had been answered.
The effort is also being blessed by the generosity of many people — from senior women who give hours of their time to sort items, stock shelves and hang clothes to a local builder who says he will donate any supplies needed to a carpenter who constructed all the store shelves.
“The Lord has just been really good to us,” Bouma says, summing up what she believes is a core reason for the store doing so well at this time.
The store’s financial success has also been enabled by the landlord providing the store building rent-free.
It helps that the store is located in a newer building, with air conditioning and that the volunteers work hard to eliminate items that cause smells, Bouma adds.
“Customers often comment that they really like our store because it doesn’t stink,” she says.
Another small but important element is the fact that the store has a paved parking lot.
Belleville’s Thrift Store is a full charity, with all merchandise donated and all workers volunteers. This is also integral to its financial success, says Bouma who did extensive research and visited many thrift stores before launching the Belleville organization. She became convinced the store needed to operate as a full charity, which eliminates the need to pay corporate taxes, which would require taxing the merchandise.
But while there is much to celebrate, Bouma also notes the effort has not been without its struggles. Some differences with volunteers have arisen and sometimes there’s a challenge with having enough and the rights kinds of workers for the tasks to be done. “But those are things that part of life and we just have to work through it,” she says.
People interested in setting up a thrift store to support a faith-based school should start by praying, Bouma recommends.
She also welcomes visits to the Belleville store to observe and learn more.
One hundred per cent of the store’s donations to Belleville Christian School are earmarked for tuition assistance, in other words for families who otherwise would find it difficult to have their children attend the school for financial reasons.