Thrift stores sprout up around lake
by Staff Writer
As the recession threatened most Lake Norman businesses, thrift stores thrived.
For instance, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont plans to open a thrift store at 14420 N. Statesville Road, Huntersville, marking the nonprofit’s 22nd store in its 18-county footprint.
The store will employ 20 to 25 people full-time, pumping a half-million dollars into the local economy, Holly Cooper, communications and marketing director for Goodwill Southern Piedmont, said.
Several nonprofits have opened thrift stores around Lake Norman in recent years.
Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, the Mooresville/Lake Norman Christian Mission, and Our Towns Habitat for Humanity have each opened stores in Mooresville since 2010. The Great Dane Rescue opened a shop in Huntersville in March.
“People look for the bargains,” Cooper said. “With the economy being as such, people have a tendency to be more thoughtful about their shopping options, especially for childrens’ clothes.”
Goodwill Southern Piedmont tracks population and density growth when deciding where to locate a new store, Barbara Maida-Stolle, vice president of retail services, said. The nonprofit also operates stores in Cornelius and Lincolnton.
Goodwill Southern Piedmont follows the lead of big-box retailers such as Harris Teeter, Target, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Home Depot. Maida-Stolle also credited Charlotte-based restaurant chain Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits for identifying great locations within the region.
“What we’re able to do is identify both the shopper and the donor,” Maida-Stolle said. “We have to have a good mix of both to sustain a store.”
Our Towns Habitat for Humanity opened a second ReStore in November 2010 in Mooresville after its flagship shop in Cornelius surpassed more than $1 million in sales that year. It also ranked at the top of Habitat for Humanity’s 700-plus stores nationally in terms of volunteers.
Mooresville ReStore Manager Mary Gibbs attributes the success of Our Town’s Habitat’s shops to customers knowing that they help people. ReStores have become Our Towns Habitat’s biggest fundraiser, helping the nonprofit serve 218 families in Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and Mooresville since 1988.
Most nonprofits collect donated clothing, furniture and household items to sell in stores. This allows nonprofits to not only support overhead costs, but also to carry out their core missions.
Our Towns Habitat for Humanity connects Lake Norman area residents to affordable housing. The Great Dane Rescue pairs people with rescued dogs. And Goodwill Industries helps the unemployed work toward self-sufficiency through job training.
“Everything goes back to the donations,” Jaymie Eichorn, marketing and communications director for Goodwill Northwest, which operates two stores in Mooresville, said. “That’s the lifeblood of our organization. Without donations, we don’t have sales. Without sales, we don’t have a mission.”