The little downtown store named Thrift ’n Gift has garnered quite a clientele – thrifty shoppers, schoolchildren from the neighborhood next door, and through special programs, incarcerated women and the homeless.
During its first year in business, the thrift store has found a niche among Cary’s nonprofit community, supporting a charity in the Dominican Republic while providing basic supplies to a wide swath of locals in need.
The venture is an entrepreneurial nonprofit on a small scale. Four people, with a little help from friends, are building a self-sustaining source of help for hundreds of locals and people abroad.
“Let’s start small, with no debt, and see what we can do,” said George King, who with his wife Nicolette, is a founder of Seeds of Mustard Ministries, the thrift store’s parent organization. The venture recently won the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s award for local nonprofits and should soon receive a $2,000 grant from the Research Triangle Institute.
For George and Nicolette King, and family friend Debbie Dillon, the honors mark a coming-of-age for a mission that began almost three years ago with the deaths of the Kings’ son David and Dillon’s mother. The trio used memorial tributes to lay groundwork for the new charity, and by last spring had opened the shop on S.E. Maynard Road, which they run with one other employee.
“Our mission is to assist children in families in crisis, and share the gospel,” Dillon said. “We don’t push it, but they know (our faith.) We’ll say ‘Have a blessed day.’ ”
With guidance from Dorcas Ministries, the new venture uses its flow of donated goods to fuel several other missions. The group is working with Apex Baptist Church and Freeway Church to build a playground in the nearby Tate Street area, where Thrift ’n Gift distributed 200 vouchers for book bags and school supplies. Seeds of Mustard brings clothing and other supplies to a homeless group’s encampment off North Harrison Avenue in Cary. Every few months, the charity also brings female prisoners from the Department of Corrections to shop at the store.
So far, the store’s greatest needs are more floor space and more customers. “We have to turn down so much,” Dillon said, adding that the business may look for a new home next year, and could eventually found a food bank.
In the coming year, George King said, the business will look to rely more on direct profits than donated money.
And for now, Dillon said, the venture’s recent honors are an encouraging sign. “I was floored,” she said of the Chamber award. “It was an affirmation of what we were doing.”