The bargain seekers who stood in line outside Greenwood’s newest store weren’t just craving a good deal — some were looking to help change lives.
The Greenwood Pathway House opened its thrift store Thursday morning with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony. First in line was Billie Allen, who stood in line for three hours before the 10 a.m. opening.
Allen said she knows several people who regularly experience homelessness. She takes it upon herself to help house them, feed them and find clothes she can offer them. The mission of the Pathway House is dear to her heart, she said.
“I know they really needed a women’s facility here too,” she said. “Whether it’s a little or a lot, everything you can do really helps.”
Former executive director and Pathway House Operations Officer Ken Kelly said the short-term goal for the thrift store is to provide income as operational funds and as capital to be used to build a 40-bed women’s shelter. The hope is that the store will be able to supplement the organization with income for future projects as well.
Inside, rows of about 1,500 garments hung in neatly organized rows, as a perimeter of items including electronics, furniture, toys, books and framed paintings drew shoppers’ eyes. The building used to be the site of the Davis Buick Dealership, and Kelly said it cost the group a bit more than $500,000 to renovate the lights, electricity, air conditioning, floors, windows and other elements.
“As I was praying about it, that was the only way God would let me do this — if we did it debt free,” Kelly said. “When you’re starting something from scratch, you don’t really have any operating funds. So we’re not up to full staff right now but once we’ve been underway for a while we’ll hire more to help with sorting and stocking.”
In a short ceremony before opening the store, Pathway House Executive Director Anthony Price thanked the dedicated volunteers, board and staff that worked to make this a reality, including Jack Parham, whose vision for the United Center for Community Care included the groundwork that the Pathway House has been built upon.
“There’s a need, and God put us here to help each other,” Parham said after the ribbon was snipped and the crowd allowed inside the store. “We’ve been so blessed every day, how can we do anything less than our best to help other people?”
Parham said 62 women were turned down for service in the last two months because the Pathway House’s shelter was at capacity. He said the plans for a new shelter will help address this need, but there will always be more work to do — and it will need the help of a dedicated public like the crowd that gathered to support the thrift store Thursday.
“I love Greenwood,” Parham said. “There’s no limit to what we can do if we put our minds together.”