Shop…in the Name of Love
Looking for an excuse to shop? Did you know that shopping can be a way to support a local ministry? Maybe shopping isn’t your favorite pastime, but you need a good spring-cleaning at home. By donating your clutter, you can help a local ministry and receive a tax deduction!
The Ministry Village Bargain Center opened in June 2013 with a two-fold mission: to serve the community by offering gently used, high quality merchandise at bargain prices, and to generate financial support for the programs of Ministry Village at Olive, Inc., providing assistance to the community. Over the past 5 years, the Bargain Center has become so much more than just another thrift store – engaging the community, touching people’s lives, and bringing the love of Jesus to Pensacola shoppers.
The Bargain Center is more than 12,000 square feet of merchandise, offers a large variety of items, and accepts donations of just about anything – furniture, household items, sporting goods, tools, clothing, shoes, home décor, books, music, and more. The unique variety of donations lends to the distinctive array of items you can find. Stephanie Wilson, the Ministry Village Bargain Center Manager, says some of the most unusual and unique items she has come across while working include very old, collectible Barbie dolls and rare, antique furniture. The Bargain Center is staffed by 8 employees, 7-10 volunteers, and the ladies from the Charis House, a program of Ministry Village at Olive, who train at the Bargain Center as part of their work therapy.
In 2018, the Ministry Village Bargain Center also started selling brand new mattresses and bedroom furniture at fantastic prices. “We knew our customers were looking for great deals on items like these, and we wanted to offer new options in addition to the unique donations we receive,” said Stephanie.
The funding provided by the Bargain Center has made a tremendous impact in the ability of Ministry Village at Olive to meet the needs of their clients. 100% of the net profits from the Ministry Village Bargain Center supports the programs of Ministry Village at Olive.
The Bargain Center also provides work therapy for the ladies from the Charis House, a Christian-based residential drug and alcohol women’s recovery program operated by Ministry Village at Olive. Stephanie loves being able to work closely with the ladies from the Charis House as they train in the store. “Those ladies are so precious to my heart – they are like my own children. I love being able to help them through their recovery and show them the love that they deserve – the love that Jesus would show them.”
Offering bargains to the shopping thrill-seekers and raising funds for the Ministry Village ministries are the Bargain Center’s primary goals, but finding opportunities to engage with members of the community and share the love of Jesus personally with shoppers have become the most exciting aspects of operating the Bargain Center.
In March 2018, when a charter bus carrying Texas high school band members crashed on Interstate-10 near the Florida/Alabama border, many teenagers were transported to Pensacola hospitals – with no luggage and no clean clothes or shoes. Ministry Village Executive Director Stan Lollar remembers the accident. “A call went out from the hospitals and like everybody else, we wanted to help. Fortunately, we had access to a store full of clothes and shoes that we could provide.” Items were taken to area hospitals and distributed to students – a small act that provided comfort in a time of need.
Becky, a volunteer at the Bargain Center, tells the story of ringing up a young man’s purchase as he began sobbing. She and another employee began to console him and learned that he had recently lost his young son to cancer. “We were able to spend time with him and pray with him. We also referred him to a grief counselor that we thought would be able to help bring him some peace.”
A few months ago, Stephanie met two ladies who were shopping in the store. “While chatting with our employees, the ladies mentioned they were from out of town and had never before visited the Bargain Center. They were in town because their sister had been recently killed in an accident.” As the ladies shared their heartbreaking story, the women from the Charis House (who were working in the store that day) asked Stephanie if they could take a few minutes to stop and pray for these ladies and their families. Stephanie immediately agreed. “The ladies were deeply touched that we would care so deeply for people we just met. A few days later, those same ladies stopped back at the Bargain Center to tell us goodbye, and thank us again for taking time to pray for them. They said they would always remember us for that.”
Stephanie says these kinds of interactions with customers are what make her days at the Bargain Center fantastic and bring her the greatest blessings. “We’ve seen people helped in so many ways through the Bargain Center, and being able to help others feels like a blessing to us too.”
♦ The Ministry Village Bargain Center is located at 3914 N. Davis Hwy in Pensacola, near the intersection of Davis and Fairfield, and is open Monday through Saturday, 9am to 6pm.
♦ Donations of items are accepted Monday through Saturday from 9am to 6pm. Tax receipts for your donations are also available. For donations of large quantities or large items (like furniture), the Bargain Center will come to you! Truck pickup is available by appointment. Call (850) 912-8222 to schedule a pickup time.
♦ To volunteer at the Bargain Center and support our ministry, call Stephanie at the store (850) 912-8222 during regular business hours.
♦ The Bargain Center holds fun events throughout the year and offers special sale days each week with discounts for seniors, military, teachers, and more. Follow the Ministry Village Bargain Center on Facebook for the latest sales, events and exciting merchandise announcements.