• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Journey Provisions opens new, bigger store


JOURNEY PROVISIONS volunteer Marcia Crouch, left, and store director Heather Nichols, folded donated clothes in preparation for the new store’s grand opening on Saturday. “The good Lord has done a lot of things in my life, and I like to return to other people,” Crouch said of the 25 to 30 hours each week she volunteers at the thrift shop. (Photo by John McGary)

A little more than a year after Journey Provisions thrift store opened at the church property on Hope Lane, organizers will open a new shop that’s nearly three times larger.

The new store, at 560 Fielding Circle, will begin regular business hours Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and, after that, Tuesday to Saturday at those hours.

Store director Heather Nichols said by March of last year, they’d already outgrown their old building, in part because they shared the building with the church’s school, Woodford Christian. (The old store will serve as a storage site for furniture and housewares for the “recently homeless” and fire victims as well as toys for the St. Leo School Christmas store.)

“We were blown away by the community response for both donations and for shopping,” Nichols said, adding when the thrift shop began, they were receiving 25-40 bags of donated items a week.

“We are now at 250 to 300 bags of donations every single week. We were serving roughly 25 to 30 families a week – now we can no longer keep count,” she said.

They’d been looking for a second home for several months, but the price tag was too high. The site that once held Advance Auto Parts in the old Kroger shopping center would have cost $2,300 a month, she said. Then a “generous benefactor” whom Nichols said preferred to remain anonymous arranged a lease for the 4,000 square-foot building on Fielding Circle at $500 a month.

For the last several weeks, Nichols and a host of volunteers have been filling it with donated items to sell at low prices, like children’s clothes for $1 and adults’ clothes for $2.

The location has changed, but the mission hasn’t, Nichols said.

“(We want to) find as many needs as possible for us to meet and be as creative as we can in meeting those needs. We search for unmet needs. Setting aside the clothes for the St. Leo’s students, the uniforms for Simmons (Elementary), the diapers for the families in need,” Nichols said. “There’s no resource now for – or there has not been – for diapers and wipes. When you have a problem, you’re out of luck.

If you’re on WIC (the federal Women, Infants and Children program) and you drop a can of formula, which, frankly, happens more often than you think, or it gets wet, or whatever, you’re out $25. … You can’t afford that.”

Nichols said many of the items on sale will benefit folks who have jobs, but don’t make a great deal of money.

“If you’re in between being poor enough that you need help, but not so poor that you can get (state or federal) help, there’s this gap. And we’re trying to meet that gap. We’re trying to help the working poor. The working poor often work very hard for everything they have, but they can’t afford all the things they need,” Nichols said.

Nichols receives a stipend for the 60-plus hours she puts in at Journey Provisions. The rest of the “employees” are volunteers like Marcia Crouch, who works 25 to 30 hours a week there.

“I enjoy serving and I enjoy the people. I enjoy talking to our customers. The good Lord has done a lot of things in my life, and I like to (give back) to other people,” Crouch said.

Nichols, Crouch and others at Journey Provisions say the work is its own reward – like knowing that women at The Nile Recovery will leave the recovery center with gently used clothing to wear.

“When those girls graduate, they’re starting their lives over, so they come to us for a completely free shopping spree to get all the clothes they need to start their new lives fresh. Many of them are coming from nowhere and nothing, and they really need that hand up,” Nichols said.

Nichols called Journey Provisions a “community effort,” noting that other area churches pitch in with donations and volunteers. Other volunteers are people who receive public assistance but don’t have a steady job and must put in 80 hours a month of public service.

“So many people want to help and they don’t know what to do or where to go. This is a place you can come and serve, whatever your physical limitations may be. If you need to sit, if you want to stand, you want to go, you want to deal with people, you don’t want to deal with people, we have something for everyone,” Nichols said. “It’s become its own little community.”

Journey Church receives none of the “profits,” Nichols said.

“We fully fund Celebrate Recovery (a 12-step, Christ-centered approach at the church), we do the diapers and wipes, we help with inmates and families in need, but none of this is to fund Journey Church itself. If we need money for something, our church will just have to raise it on its own,” Nichols said.

You can find out more about Journey Provisions by calling 873-7421, ext. 3.

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