KARM hopes to help
ministry through Lenoir City store
There's a new shop in town, and the buzz has been nonstop, associates at
the Knox Area Rescue Ministries Thrift Store in Lenoir City say.
(The new store is located on Hwy. 321
between United Community Bank and Lenoir City Ford.)
A stop at the new shop proved true one dreary November day as customers
dotted the store. They were all busy in their own shopping world as they
flipped through hanger after hanger of clothing, considered a pair of
heels or paired a scarf with a new shirt.
The local store had a "soft" opening about two weeks ago and some of the
racks are somewhat depleted.
"As you can see some of the empty racks, it's been a challenge to keep
them full. We weren't expecting it, not this big," Jenny Shaw,
operations manager of KARM's out-of-county thrift stores, said. The
racks needed to be restocked by midmorning, but it was nothing to worry
about, Shaw said. Donations steadily flew in, which is something rare
for a new KARM store.
"We've never had a store take off with donations to where it can be
standing on its own right away. It usually takes a few months, but we're
standing on our own right away, so that's great," Shaw said. "The people
just welcomed us so much. The first Saturday we were open we had no
furniture. We got eight couches and four loveseats all in one day."
While some visit the KARM store to further the cause, shoppers Lee
Brown, who was driven by the bargains, and Thomas Sanders said they plan
on coming back. It was their first stop at the new store.
"In these difficult economic times it's really great to have a place to
buy good, quality clothing at a lower price like this," Brown, a
Friendsville resident and self-described "KARM addict," said as she
pondered over a suit jacket. "It's also great to have a place where the
community can share. If I've got clothes that I think could benefit
somebody else then I can bring them here and somebody else can get some
wear out of them,"
Sanders likes the idea of good items being used a second time.
"It's not really a money thing," he said. "It's just why not reuse stuff
that can be worn instead of buying kids and us expensive stuff when you
don't really need it?"
KARM marketing manager Sue Renfro said branching out to surrounding
communities has proven successful. The Lenoir City is one of several the
nonprofit opened this year.
"We're extremely grateful for the warm welcome that we have received in
Loudon County, and we hope to serve you for many years to come," Renfro
said. "It broadens our ministry and gives us a way to offer positive
goods and services to the Lenoir City community as well as the Loudon
community to share in the ministry of KARM."
KARM, with a mission to restore lives through rescue and building
positive relationships, is home to nearly 400 people each night and
provides nearly 1,000 meals daily. The 52-year-old ministry also hosts
job training, employment and educational assistance, counseling services
and rehabilitation programs.
The nonprofit is currently looking for coat donations for its annual
"Coats for the Cold" drive. Coats will be collected at all KARM thrift
store and Prestige Cleaners locations through Nov. 18.
Renfro said sales from the 12 thrift stores make up about 10 percent of
the ministry's annual budget.
Lenoir City store manager Victoria Holland said she believes the thrift
stores are a win-win situation for those shopping for a bargain and
those needing assistance.
"It's really, really exciting. We work for the mission to glorify God
and we truly believe in what we're doing," she said. "Even though my
hand isn't a direct hand feeding those meals, without these stores they
couldn't do all the outreach programs that they do. So, to know that
we've started like this is just - it's so exciting that I get to be a
part of it and so excited for the response from the community and hope
that they'll continue to support us."
Every $2 that someone spends at a KARM thrift store equals a meal for
those in need, Holland said.
The Lenoir City store will host a grand opening celebration 11 a.m.-noon