Five years ago, renovations were wrapping up at the old Safeway Grocery Store building on Mill Street in Liberty. The Hillcrest Thrift Store was set to open and hosted its ribbon cutting and grand opening with community members, the Liberty Chamber of Commerce, staff, and volunteers all present to celebrate this step in the new direction Hillcrest Ministries was headed.
From the humble beginning of our transitional housing program started in 1978 in Liberty, Hillcrest Ministries became a known name throughout the community because of the impact made in the lives of families in the Northland. Due to this impact, the community responded time and again providing for the needs of the families being served. Food was donated, linens supplied, toiletries given, and so much more contributed. It was recognized that these families, becoming stable, would have significant needs moving into places of their own. Again, the community answered, bringing furniture, clothing, housewares, and more. Yet, for such a small operation, using every inch of the space they owned, these items became difficult to store and manage for the right need.
From this difficulty, the thrift store idea was born. The purpose: to repurpose, both for the needs of the families served in the program and the surrounding community. Every step of planning took repurposing. The store repurposed a wall donated by John Henry on the Plaza, items from Habitat Restore, and shelving from a store selling used office furnishing. J.C. Penney’s donated displays tables and other display furnishings. Display pieces and fixtures were provided by another local business closing its doors.
This purpose has now carried throughout the five years. Now Hillcrest Hope thrift, with its memorable lighted signage, partners with a local exporter to send items we are unable to sell oversees. Linens, housewares, shoes, belts, purses, clothing, and toys are all sent to African villages in need. Books are sent to the same areas, used to teach English. Textbooks are sent and used to provide education in these villages. Each piece of cardboard and metal is recycled locally to reduce waste.
“Repurposing seems like an obvious value for a thrift store, but we are proud to put that into practice in any way we can. The impact of repurposing tends to benefit everyone involved,” explains Ryan Haverland, Hillcrest Hope thrift store manager. “People travel through phases in life in terms of their fashion and home decor tastes as well their hobbies. Often, as one person is leaving that part of their life behind them, someone else is just entering it and is thrilled to find such ‘cool stuff’ at a great value. To be a part of so many of our customer’s journey through life is just a lot of fun.”
Celebrating our store’s 5th anniversary, we recognize over a dozen dedicated volunteers who have been with us from the time we opened our doors. We are honored by the 10’s of thousands of volunteer hours provided to not only allow us to operate such an incredible store, but to also fund this transformational program we believe in. We also thank our customers for the near 50,000 items purchased this last year.
“One of the wonderful perks about our store is that we are not only able to provide funds for our program, but we also provide our community with quality merchandise that is super affordable,” shares Ryan. “We try to create a fun and whimsical atmosphere with our customers that helps us enjoy life together.”
It is the culmination of all of this that we announce our Customer Appreciation Day, this Friday, August 12th. From 11a-2p we will offer hot dogs and chips to our shoppers and supporters. A special sale and quirky giveaways will mark this special occasion. Our success both as a thrift store and as a transformational housing program would not be a reality without our customers and our community support. We thank you all!