Urbana’s Community Thrift Store will be moving from Scioto Street at the end of March. It is expected to open by the end of March inside Life-Net Christian Fellowship at 142 Dellinger Road. Store Manager John Nolte said that he hopes to host a soft opening at the new location around March 22. The store will occupy the rear of the church in the same room as the Stepping Stones Outreach Ministries community food pantry.
According to Nolte, the owner of the store’s current location plans to put loft apartments upstairs and another business downstairs. He said they are parting on good terms, and that he had received a letter to the effect that the thrift store had been a good tenant. The thrift store was given two and a half months months notice they would need to relocate.
“We looked at many, many, many locations here in town, and for whatever reason the door shut,” Nolte said. “So, several of us here attend Life-Net very actively, I actually volunteered out there for seven years prior to coming up here. Pastor Chris Livingston came to us and said we have an option to carve out some space there. It will be less space, but certainly workable.”
The thrift store plans to eliminate the flea market portion of the business due to reduced space. Nolte said he intends to focus more on clothing and necessities.
“Our clothing is as cheap as you’ll find in a yard sale,” he said. “Our T-shirts are 25 cents, a button-down shirt is 50 cents, a pair of pants regardless whether it has a new tag on it or is worn is a dollar. Our whole ministry is about not only helping people, but to help people help people. We had a lady come in who works in Springfield in the rehab hospital, she came in and bought 13 bags of clothes — because her comment to me was ‘they come in with no clothes’ — and she was able to help people. We have people that help next-door neighbors and families in the community that have kids who are less fortunate than their own kids, and our prices allow other people to come in and buy for other people.”
The Community Thrift Store has an ongoing close-out sale in which much of their merchandise is marked down 50 percent, and the flea market is allowing people to fill a large grocery bag with items for 25 cents.
The Community Thrift Store opened in January 2015 at the location of the former Salvation Army retail operation. A five-member board was formed to operate a Christ-centered 501c3 nonprofit with a focus on providing clothing and other necessities.
“It was felt at the time that this town needed a thrift store,” Nolte said. “So a board was created, independently. We have no ties with the Salvation Army. It was an independent move that was actually a fundraiser out at the fairgrounds with a concert, and the community really stepped up and made it possible again for the board to do those things.
“The reason we are here is to help people provide clothing and what not,” he added. “We have other things as well, much cheaper than you will find in any other store. But our real focus is clothing and necessities that people need. On top of that we have a Help Ministries program. What that does is, in the years 2017 and 2018 we paid out $18,700 to people. Where that money goes is to motel rooms for the homeless. We help people with their electric bills, their gas bills, we even helped a gentleman buy a bicycle tire and tube because that was his only mode of transportation to get to work.”
The store obtains all items by donation, and Nolte said that with very rare exceptions he never turns down a donation because he doesn’t want to discourage the community from continuing to donate. The store sells furniture, linens, glassware and kitchenware as well as vintage items and antiques.
“It’s pretty much community based, but we’re highly supported by churches, and the pastors really filter information to their congregation,” Nolte said. “We have had a couple of very generous donors in terms of donations – there is actually a flea market that was run here in town, and they closed it down and donated their entire flea market to us, and that’s really what necessitated the flea market being opened downstairs. We had to get the merchandise in front of people. We just have the best donors, in my mind. We have a pretty heavily Christian base of people, both customers and donors, that come in and ship and support us in many ways.
“Again, for us it is a ministry,” he added. “We don’t look at it as a job or even a business — it is a means to an end — but our real focus is on the community. There’s so many needs. We pray with people here. If they have prayer requests we take prayer requests. I take it out to my church and as a church we pray for them.”
The Community Thrift Store intends to retain some employees and to keep the same hours of Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 937-484-4244.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304