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Habitat thrift store closing

Posted 6/24/23

Citing a number of factors, Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity has sold its thrift store location on East Depot Street.

The store would have been at its present location, the old Clifford …

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Habitat thrift store closing


Citing a number of factors, Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity has sold its thrift store location on East Depot Street.

The store would have been at its present location, the old Clifford Furniture Store, for three years this September. Prior to that the thrift store was located on Madison Street.

Pam Birtcil, Habitat executive director for Bedford County, pointed to the failure of both the Shelbyville City Council and the Bedford County Board of Commissioners to approve Habitat’s request for $10,000 from each, as well as increased insurance costs for the building.

“The first year the insurance company made me insure the building for $500,000 and we were paying a couple of thousand dollars,” Birtcil said. “The next year they went to one million and insurance bills went to $3,900 a year. This year, in March, they increased my replacement value to $3.4 million and my bill was $13,988.”

Birtcil pointed out the square is becoming more popular, and she was approached about selling the building.

“At the same time, I was approached about selling, the city and the county turned us down for funding. What I had asked form from both the city and county was six to seven percent of our budget.”

Prices of land and building materials have also increased exponentially. The thrift store produced $25,000 for the building fund in its second year.

Both Birtcil and Shontelli Allen, who is the first person you see when you visit the thrift store, admit a lot of tears have been shed on the old wood floor since making the announcement of the closing.

“The store is doing great,” Birtcil said. “That is the saddest part. We have stuff at really good prices. The store is just rocking it.

“What makes Shontelli and me cry for many nights is the store is more than just raising building funds. It is a ministry. Families needing help in making purchases can find things for sale here cheaply. We also help with recycling. We take in a lot of items that would have gone into dumpsters.”

The thrift store has also been a major provider of hours for students in the Tennessee Promise Program as well as for juvenile offenders who need to work hours.

“It is going to be a loss for them for sure,” Birtcil said. “But I can’t take the first $15,000 I raise and put it into a building for insurance.

“ It is harder to raise money over the years. Covid almost killed us.”

Birtcil and Allen will transition to an office setting after the store closes for good later this summer. Birtcil has applied for a grant with Habitat International for funding.

‘The grant pays for an employee for two years,” Birtcil said. “It is going to allow me to get back out into the public more for sponsorships.

“Houses are costing around $150,000 to $160,000,” Birtcil said. “We want to try to make everything work, but when we were turned down for local funding, we decided to concentrate on buildings houses. That is our ministry too. We need to be building and making our affiliates stronger.

“I took a piece of property that was only producing $70 to $80 in property taxes and I put a $225,000 house on it. As a non-profit, we created property taxpayers.”

The Gateway Church has a food pantry and also has an area for items like dishes, comforters and sheets, and household goods.

“We are making boxes of dishes and anything we can give to help them,” Birtcil said. “We want to sell items, but we want to give to the community as well.”

Prices have always been affordable, but during this closeout sale, items are available at even cheaper prices. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

“We’ve got all kinds of stuff in there,” Birtcil said. “A lot of people are buying building products. We want to move as much as possible. We are slashing prices.”