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Nothing Wasted thrift shop serves community through its donation-based ministry

Store is an outreach program of Gainesville First Church of the Nazarene and run by volunteers

POSTED: March 18, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Patti Dixon manages the Nothing Wasted thrift shop on McEver Road in Gainesville. The shop is an outreach ministry of Gainesville First Church of the Nazarene. It opened Aug. 15 and is operated by volunteers. All of its merchandise has been donated.

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One day a woman dropped off 10 pairs of brand-new women’s dress pants at Nothing Wasted thrift store.

The woman had purchased size 0 and 1 pants for someone else, but they didn’t fit. Instead of returning them, the woman donated the pants.

The next day another woman came into the store at 1050 McEver Road in Gainesville looking for size 1 dress pants for her granddaughter, a victim of domestic violence. Nothing Wasted manager Patti Dixon said the woman wanted to buy the pants so her granddaughter could start working and create a path to independence.

“The stuff that we need comes in just when we need it, and the people who need it come in just when we get it,” Dixon said. “I could tell you a dozen stories just like that of exactly the right thing coming in the door and exactly the right person coming in that needs it.”

Nothing Wasted thrift shop is an outreach ministry of Gainesville First Church of the Nazarene. It opened Aug. 15 and is operated by volunteers, like Leah Tench. She has been volunteering since the store opened.

“I love interacting with the people,” she said. “I love going through the stuff and seeing what comes in.”

All of Nothing Wasted’s merchandise is donated, which doesn’t require funding from the church. In fact, the ministry’s finances are separate from Gainesville First Church of the Nazarene, Dixon said.

The money the store generates goes toward paying bills. Any surplus funds are reinvested in the ministry. Tax-exempt monetary donations are accepted during business hours, which are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

With the church not focused on raising money for the ministry, its congregation can focus on the mission.

“The idea is just to get the church out of the four walls of the church,” Dixon said. “And to be actively engaged in lives of the community.”

When community members enter the store, they will find affordable, pre-owned goods. The store sells clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children. It also carries household goods, such as linens and blankets, as well as some kitchen gadgets and furniture.

“We don’t have large appliances, we don’t have mattresses and we don’t have cribs,” Dixon said, explaining those items not only take up a lot of space, but could be unhygienic.

The store also doesn’t sell large electronics.

Prices vary but are well below original retail prices.

Because of this, Nothing Wasted has helped several people transition out of homelessness.

Dixon said people have come into the store with a small wad of bills and said they need everything to make their new place a home.

Volunteers help pick out items, usually totaling $30 to $40. If the customers only have $10, the story will sell the items to the customer anyway.

“By selling things to them instead of an outright donation to them, it helps them maintain their sense of self-worth, that they’re paying their own way,” Dixon said.

The customer clientele is as varied as the goods.

Some customers shop at Nothing Wasted to buy their kid a wardrobe at a reasonable price.

Others are hobby thrifters, who are people who could shop somewhere like Belk but choose not to.

“They like the adventure of (thrifting),” Dixon said. “They like the hunt. They like the bargain. It’s fun. You find unique things you would never find in a regular, first-line department store.”

Other customers cross the threshold after a difficult situation, such as a house fire.

“People don’t come in here with the mentality of let me see what I can get,” Dixon said. “People step in this door with their head held high. They step in the door with wanting to maintain not just their integrity ... but their self-esteem. And we don’t want to do anything that would take away from that.”

Nothing Wasted also caters to its regulars, who are typically senior citizens.

“We just stand and talk and listen,” Dixon said

She said she often finds as people get older, their spouse may have died, their children are grown, and they may go all day without talking to anybody.

“If this can be a retail place, a place that feels good, a place where people smile at you and shake your hand and listen, then that’s a service we provide,” Dixon said. “We believe the Lord sends people in and they share with us.”

Sometimes the volunteers will pray with customers. Dixon said they don’t force it but make it available if they feel it is appropriate.

“I think our main objective is to just serve the community’s needs by having our doors open and having cheap stuff for people who need it and like to find cheap stuff,” Tench said. “Once they’re in the door, hopefully we can reach them spiritually at some point.”


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