Discounts, Sales and Calendars, Oh My!

March 2013 Sale CalendarVillage Marketplace has begun doing daily specials that make it even more affordable to shop with us! Our calendar of sales is available here on our blog, on our Facebook page and in store. Especially exciting is our 99¢ sale that’s coming up on March 16th. All clothing in the store will be just 99¢!!! Our first 99¢ sale last month was wildly successful, making the store over $1,000! And as always, by shopping with us, you’re supporting our efforts to help the homeless as well as touch the lives of so many in our community. Mark your calendars and come see us on March 16th!!!

Village Marketplace Spotlight: Jessica Martin

About three and a half million people in the US are considered “unemployable”. They are in recovery from addiction, have criminal records, or just lack the education and work history to make themselves viable to employers. For whatever reason, the Government describes them as “marginally attached to the labor force” or “discouraged workers”, they go on:

Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

At Village Marketplace, we know these statistics as people: employees, volunteers, donors, partners and customers! Like Jessica!

Jessica is a graduate of nearby Lee High School and a part of Lincoln Village ministry. She attended Lincoln Village’s after school tutoring programs and her brothers went into the gymnastics program and made it all the way to the US Olympic Team! Jessica went to Wallace State (the first person in her family to attend college!) to pursue dental assistant training. but decided to come home, due to being due with a little bundle of joy named DJ! (We all love little DJ and fight over him). DJ’s timing was not the best but now that he’s here, he’s a blessing to us all. But his Mom needed a job, and a career, and some stability.

Jessica worked in fast food around town but did not make much money. She tried to attend college but it was hard working and with a baby at home. She was successful in finding a great daycare for DJ, at the Premier Preschool in Cummings Research Park (big thanks to our friends at Village of Promise for hooking them up!). Then, earlier this year, Jessica was in the wrong place at the wrong time one night and was arrested on a serious charge. It’s a long story but the bottom line for Village Marketplace is this: we love Jessica and DJ and will continue to do so, whatever happens down the road. So, we suggested Jessica get on with her life and you know what? She did, and we helped a little.

So how’d we help? Well we ask you: How will people ever become “qualified” without given the opportunity to do so? One of Village Marketplace’s main priorities is to help people find their way back to what most of us take for granted: mainstream life. We also believe that in order to succeed, there needs to be a career plan that advances the employee beyond our little thrift store. Enter Jessica! One of our AWESOME employees here at Village Marketplace. In just three short months she has received her Nurses Assistant Certification (CNA) and will now have a stable career in the medical field that can provide for her and her DJ! It’s a start. And now she can continue to work at the store and make some money while working our networks for a CNA job. Know anyone?

PayPal! No donation is too small!

Hi folks.  See that little button in the upper right that says Donate?  That means you can now donate actual cash money to the Village Marketplace!  Don’t have time to volunteer?  To busy to bring lunch down to the staff?  It’s OK, we understand (sigh) we’ll be OK.  Or, you could just send some $$ and we’ll take care of the rest for you.  :-)

Last week: 1) we paid $225 to put a young family of three in a motel after they were evicted from Huntsville Housing for being charged with a crime.  The parents are both 19 and the baby is about 18 months.  2) We paid a week’s motel (in the same motel) for a homeless guy trying to get his life back online.  He’s working at the store for his room for now, until we get some confidence that he can hold it together.  3) We paid the tuition for a CNA class for a lady escaping domestic violence and a bunch more I can’t remember.

Want to help out?   We need your time and energy more than anything but we’d settle for $$ in the mean time!

Congratulations to Nancy Martin, the newest member of our team!

Nancy has graciously agreed to take on the job of “Village Marketplace Care Coordinator.”
Nancy was a tremendous help in getting the thrift store open…by multiple tasks! Such as: Procuring donations, getting them delivered to the store. running a multitude of errands for us, and being available and willing to help in ANY capacity!
We have witnessed first hand her kind heart and giving spirit, as well as all the work she has done in the past year with the homeless and less fortunate in the Huntsville area!
We are blessed and thrilled that she has agreed to help our volunteers and employees with a variety of problems that they need assistance with.
This can include anything from doctor’s appointments, visits and medical paperwork… to securing personal identification & drivers licenses, groceries and the other multitude of issues that Tristan and Dusty have been trying to help with on an almost daily basis at the store.
Nancy’s generous help will not only allow us to better accomplish our mission of providing sustainable funding to our four other Non-Profit Organizations, but to also provide recovery employment for those who are trying to become functional members of society, and to help them get back into the workforce!
We look forward to working closely with Nancy, and all she has to offer our Ministry!

Thrift Store Apparel

It’s funny, some people have an aversion to wearing USED items from Thrift Stores.

Not US!

We laughingly refer to Tristan as the “Queen of Cashmere.” She is probably the only woman on the face of the planet who owns 8-10 Cashmere sweaters, all of which were purchased from Thrift Stores for under $10.00 each.

Our kids wear clothes from Thrift Stores. They grew up that way, and think its cool that they can have new clothes fairly regularly!

OK, I admit. We draw the line at Socks and Underwear. Some things I will INSIST on purchasing NEW.

Tristan always looks like a Million Bucks when we go out. Always a new stunning outfit each time, and until I announced it to the world just now through this Blog, no one was ever the wiser! ;) ;)

What changed my mind?

I recently read about Fashion Designer Jessi Arrington. She showed up for a TED TALK in Los Angeles with nothing but the clothes on her back, and a suitcase full of clean underwear.

She spent the entire week in L.A. shopping in thrift stores for her Attire for the week.

She wore nothing but the thrift store “finds” the entire week.

And she, too, looked like a Million Bucks!

You can check out the Video here: Jessi Arrington – Wearing Nothing New

So, my questions to you are:

Do you shop in thrift stores?
If not, what holds you back?
If so, what are some of your favorite “finds?”

Can’t wait to read your Replies!
-Dusty-

Closing Time

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I admit. I’m a Thrift Store JUNKIE.

So, Saturday after we closed the Thrift Store for the day, I went to a competitor’s Thrift Store up the road.

I went partially because they were having a big 50% Off Storewide 1-Day Sale, and I am personally shopping for Antique furniture for our upcoming new house. ;)

But, more importantly, I went to do Market Research.

I do this on a fairly regular basis.

I feel that it’s important to know what your competition is doing:
Are they busy? How are their prices? How is their merchandising? Is there anything WE can do to improve?

Not knowing that it was almost closing time (and thinking that they closed later than they did,) my friend, Carl, and I walked in at 4:57 PM.

We were greeted by the Manager from the cash register with a loud, “Hey, guys, it’s 3 minutes until closing time!”

And I guess that just kind of struck me bad.

Don’t get me wrong, Employees do have personal lives outside of work, and in Retail you have to draw the line SOMEWHERE, and lock the front door and go home.

(Keep in mind, at a different Thrift Store here in town, I actually had them turn off half of the store’s lights on me at 4:55 one night.)

I’m not bashing them. They have their Rules and Policies.

I just want us to be DIFFERENT.

I just don’t want to EVER be “THAT STORE.”

And I hope that I have trained my employees well enough to handle things with a little more Tact and Grace.

I guess I always try to remember that I may be “the only Bible that someone ever reads!”

But if we ever DO drop the ball, and you observe it, please let me know, OK?

You, as the customer, TRULY ARE #1 to us!
-Dusty-

Thrift Store Volvo

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Although Tristan doesn’t like to talk about it, we once bought a car from the Goodwill Thrift Store in Birmingham.

It was around 1997, and the car was a 1990 Volvo 760 Turbo. So it wasn’t terribly old.
Navy blue, leather interior, Turbo, and ran like a DREAM.

We had a newborn baby at the time, and were in desperate need of a 2nd Car.

I SAY it “ran like a Dream,” but…..

OK, let me back up…. When I found the car for sale on the Goodwill’s side Lot, they had just marked it down to $400. According to the windshield signs, It had actually been reduced previously from $1,600 to $800 to $400.

It wouldn’t start. It would try to turn over, but wouldn’t crank.

I did some digging in the Glovebox. I found the Registration from the Donor.

It was a Doctor from Guin, Alabama.

So, I thought, “What the heck?”… and I called his Doctor’s Office.

A nurse answered, I explained the situation, and she put the kind Doctor on the phone.

He explained to me:

Yes, it did run when he donated it. As a matter of fact, he drove it several hours to Birmingham to donate it personally. He was going to get more as a Tax Deduction than what the Dealer was going to allow for Trade-In on a new Volvo.

He had just had the engine replaced about 10,000 miles ago, as well.

No, he didn’t know why it wouldn’t start. He was as puzzled as I was!

I hung up and quickly called a friend of mine down the street, who was a Mechanic.

He popped the hood, rearranged a few wires and fuses, and fired it right up.

He looked at me and said, “If I were you, I would go inside and pay for that car IMMEDIATELY. That’s a Bargain!”

Long story short….. SOMEONE, knowing that they mark their cars down in price WEEKLY…. Had rearranged the firing sequence on the spark plug wires, and removed a few fuses from under the dash.

I guess they were going to come back that day and buy it, once the price was Reduced.

Lucky for us, I got there first.

We kept the car for a year. Never did anything to it but change the Oil.

Then we sold it for $1,500.

I have always loved that story. It’s pretty cool and makes me smile.

On the other hand, Tristan hates it.

I think she still has nightmares about being stuck driving that car for a year!

Being a young new mom, and trying to simultaneously juggle a newborn in a car seat, she never quite got used to finding the switches for the headlights and windshield wipers. I think sometimes Europeans design cars backwards just to confuse Americans. ;)

Oh, and did I mention that the Air Conditioner didn’t work, and the Leather interior was BLACK?

Now you know the Rest of the Story, Paul Harvey….

-Dusty-

The Village Church and My Fear of Speaking

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Today, Tristan and I had the privilege of speaking at The Village Church here in Huntsville.  Pastor Alex Shipman had asked us to come and speak about the Thrift Store and our Ministry a while back.

To be honest, I’m not much on public speaking. You’d really never know that if you sat and talked to me, as I will talk your leg off, and usually at a rate of 90-miles-per-minute!  I don’t really know what it is. I could sit in a pub with ten of my closest friends and talk to them for hours.

Give me a stage and a microphone, though, and it’s PANIC time!

I know that Fear will all change in due time. But this morning, it had me concerned!   So, late last night and into this morning, I was sitting in our sunroom at the house, praying about what God wanted me to say today. And in that still small voice, that only HE can do, I heard Him say, “Don’t worry about this one. You aren’t speaking this morning, Dusty, I AM.”

So, what did I speak about this morning?

I really don’t know…. The Store. Our Marriage Our Ministry.

One thing I know is this: People were smiling. People were crying. Tristan was crying.

So, Lord, whatever you had come out of my mouth, I know it was good.
And I hope it made a difference in someone’s life.

And for THAT, I thank you!  Amen!