Lighthouse Thrift Store opens to support from Miss-Lou communityPublished 12:07am Friday, July 20, 2012
VIDALIA — In just a few short weeks, Linda Bonnette went from never having a garage sale to collecting thousands of items from community members to open a thrift store in Vidalia — but all the credit goes to a higher power.
On May 3, Bonnette opened The Lighthouse Thrift Store as a ministry of Vidalia First Assembly of God on U.S. 84.
The idea was initially the vision of the church’s late pastor, Albert Fraley, who died in 2008.
Before his death, Bonnette said Fraley spoke about the thrift store being a beneficial service for the community.
“He would say that the Lord showed it to him in a dream, so it was going to happen,” Bonnette said. “When we first started talking about everything coming together, he said it should be named ‘Clothe the naked.’
“I wasn’t brave enough to name it that, but his favorite song was ‘The Lighthouse Song,’ so I named it after that for him.”
Bonnette, who is also the director of Feed the Hungry, said the thought of running the thrift store might have lost her a few nights of sleep during the initial planning phases.
“I just didn’t know if I could handle it with all the other work I have to do,” Bonnette said. “I’d never even given a garage sale, so I also just wasn’t sure how all this would work.”
But through much prayer and support from her family and church members, Bonnette began arranging for the grand opening of the store — until one small problem arose.
“We didn’t have anything to put in the store at first,” Bonnette said. “We made these fliers and went around to seven different garage sales that day and asked if we could pick up the things they didn’t sell.
“By the end of the day, all seven had called us back to come pick up their stuff.”
The store began with one lonely rack draped with a few used clothes. But now multiple racks, shelves and cabinets showcase quality second-hand and new items donated by Miss-Lou residents.
And those items are already attracting dedicated customers like Diane Jones and her granddaughter Madison Hewitt, 9.
“We’ve been here every week since they opened it up,” Jones said. “We like to go to yard sales, and this is for a good cause, so we like to just see what we can find.”
But it was Hewitt that walked away with a prized item Thursday — a pair of black dress shoes.
“I like to look for clothes and shoes,” Hewitt said. “I’m going to play dress up with these.”
The store accepts all donations, which can be dropped off at the store at any time, but Bonnette said the highest selling items are clothes.
“You just never know what some people are going to drop off, but clothes seem to be what people want the most,” Bonnette said. “We’ve just been amazed at the goodness of people for all the donations they’ve received.”
And while they won’t turn away any donations, Bonnette said the store could also use volunteers to help sort and tag items.
“You’d be surprised at how many donations we’ve been receiving, and it’s just a lot to go through,” Bonnette said. “But I know God will supply us with whatever we need.”
The store is located next to Vidalia First Assembly of God on U.S. 84 in Vidalia and is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the thrift store can contact Bonnette at 318-719-9760.