Walking up the wooden, painted steps of this prim, little white cottage on McIntosh Road in Brooks, you can silently hear the history of the 100-year-old home welcoming you, bidding you to enter and discover its displayed treasures.
Repurposed as the Second Chance Thrift Shop, you quickly realize it is unlike entering other resale stores. Listen carefully and your imagination can hear the stories emitting from the walls as you view beautifully displayed quality items in themed rooms. Adjacent to the front door, a peg rack holds purses and hats, as if the home’s inhabitants placed them there. To the right, decorative accessories, tables and lamps entice you to browse through what may have been the sitting room or parlor in its day. The mirrored fireplace mantle reflects treasures nesting within the room. As you go down the hall, a display of seasonal items entices you to keep exploring.
Enter one of the cozy rooms and see two bookshelf-lined walls filled with the latest best sellers, old favorites and well-known classics. Men’s and boys’ clothing hang neatly according to size. Another room exudes a feminine touch, with women’s clothing and accessories all precisely organized. The children’s room can’t help but make you smile. Games, books and colorful clothing make a pleasant browsing experience and remind you of simpler times long ago. Enter the cozy kitchen and you see the usual cooking utensils and baking items along with vintage glassware and decorative dishes delightfully displayed in open cabinets. You may recognize an item or dish from your past that triggers cherished memories.
The Second Chance Thrift Shop is a mission of Brooks United Methodist Church and was the brainchild of Associate Pastor Reverend Lesley Langford. “I remember reading an article in the United Methodist Interpreter Magazine about a church that was successfully running a thrift shop. I asked myself, ‘Could we do the same?’”
“I talked up the idea with family and members of our congregation,” remembers Langford. “Our church has always had a heart for missions and outreach, so the congregants enthusiastically embraced the idea.”
The church was blessed to find a perfect site for the shop. “My mother-in-law, Jane Langford, literally gave a ‘home’ to our idea,” Langford relates. “She graciously offered us a house that she owned to use as our shop. Fortunately, it was vacant and not far from the church. Actually, the house was my husband’s great grandparents’ at one time.” Church members energetically made a few repairs and updates to the century old house in preparation for the June 13, 2009, Grand Opening.
The house’s name, ‘Second Chance,’ is a reflective tie-in to the Christian faith, according to Langford. “God gives us so many chances again and again through his grace. There is no ‘cast-off.’ Everyone always has a second chance.” She adds, “Even the donations we receive have a second chance to be of use to others in the community.”
This endeavor would not be possible without volunteers, donors, and of course, shoppers. Lee Ann Trimble, an avid volunteer and shop coordinator, says, “We have very talented people who are adept at artfully displaying the items.” She adds with a laugh, “Some of us call working at the shop our therapy. We have such a fun time getting together that it becomes a social event as well as work.”
When asked about the most unusual item donated, Langford can’t quickly recall one specific thing, “but,” she says with a laugh, “we have had a few items donated that we have to ask, ‘What is it and what is it used for?’” She says, eventually someone comes in who knows exactly what it is.
Many shoppers comment on the store’s inviting, friendly atmosphere. One shopper, meandering through the rooms with her grown daughter, spontaneously comments, “I just love shopping here. Everything is displayed so nicely and it doesn’t feel claustrophobic like so many thrift shops do. And I like the idea that what I buy helps others in our community.”
According to Trimble, nearly 100 percent of the profits go toward local, national and international causes. One-third goes to the church’s youth group, another third to local missions such as Meals on Wheels, food banks, homeless shelters, area schools and other organizations. “Who we give to locally varies from month to month,” explains Trimble. “The final third of our proceeds supports the international missions of our church.”
Interestingly, the Thrift Shop mission parallels the vision statement, “Lifting up Christ, so that others might be lifted up,” recently adopted under Brooks UMC Senior Pastor Reverend Sheila Crowe. “We feel that we are lifting others by providing affordable, quality merchandise and by giving the proceeds to service organizations,” comments Langford.
The savings and shopping peak twice each year. “We have a tent sale in the spring to make way for new donations, and another sale at the church in November when we sell larger items and all clothing is $1 each,” says Trimble.
Donations and shoppers are always welcome. The shop accepts donations on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays when the store is open for business from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The website www.brooksumc.com lists the items accepted.
It is often said that you only have one chance to make a first impression. Now, you have a second chance to make a difference by shopping at, and donating to, the Second Chance Thrift Shop.