The Blessings Abound thrift store has seen its own share of blessings this summer. The Overland Park store recently moved from its two storefronts near 95th Street and Nall Avenue to a new home on the southeast corner of Metcalf Avenue and 103rd Street.
The move increases the store’s total square footage from 18,000 to 28,000. A variety of items fill the new space. The wares include clothing, shoes, jewelry, toys, cribs, furniture, wheelchairs and more.
Far from being dwarfed by the extra space, Blessings Abound seems to have filled it right up.
“The volume (of items coming in) has doubled in the last month since the move,” said Tony Whitter, executive director of the eight-year-old organization.
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Whitter said that Blessings Abound focuses on poverty relief. All of the 501(c)(3) organization’s profits go to two organizations: Metro Lutheran Ministries and Lutheran Urban Mission Agency. Last year, the store was able to donate more than $200,000 to the two groups, Whitter said.
The two organizations provide services such as food distribution, GED training, housing support and more.
Running the enterprise are two paid employees and more than 125 volunteers. They accept volunteers of all ages. Younger volunteers may need to have an adult with them.
Jim Dalbec of Olathe has been volunteering with the store for six years.
“The challenge for the store is getting enough volunteers,” Dalbec said. “We welcome new people.”
When the store moved, Whitter said it was able to move almost all of the stock in one day, because a social media-based service organization called Serve KC mobilized to help them. Two hundred people showed up to help.
The store also helps furnish homes in conjunction with other local relief groups. A typical delivery of this sort might go to someone in a homeless-to-housing program, who has just received a residence but has no furnishings to put in it.
“We are unique in our delivery of furniture to individuals around the city. Most often, you’re going to have to pick it up,” Whitter said. “For a lot of people in need, transportation is often difficult.”
He recalled a recent delivery to a father of two young boys. The man’s children had been in foster care for seven months, and the Missouri Department of Social Services would not approve his new mobile home as a residence for the children until it was furnished. Blessings Abound got the man sheets, housewares and furniture.
All kinds of donations come in to the store, but only some of them are right to sell there.
When they get a donated item they wouldn’t sell, they give it to another organization that has a distribution network in place for that. So, when people drop off packages of diapers, Blessings Abound sends the diapers over to local diaper bank Happy Bottoms.
“We, in effect, act as a clearinghouse for certain types of donations,” Whitter said.
When it comes to furniture, clothes and other things they will sell in the store, the phrase Whitter said to keep in mind is “gently used.”
People who shop at the store “shouldn’t get something junky just because they’re homeless” or have other troubles, he said.
The store also accepts donations from businesses that might be refurnishing and want to donate the old furniture.
Blessings Abound only has one location, and Whitter said they’re happy with that.
“The goal was never to end up with a large chain of retail stores,” he said.
They’ve got a 10-year lease on their new space, and Whitter said they’re settling in for the long haul.
Blessings Abound accepts donations 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The store will pick up large items via pre-arranged pickup.