Heather and I loved to shop thrift stores. We would go to Columbus, Ohio and spend all day going from store to store seeking treasures. Loving to shop thrift stores lead us to research starting our own thrift store. A short while later, with $500 to pay for the initial licenses and legal paperwork, and the stuff we had accumulated in our basement, we were in business. We decided to open the store in “Roz’s” home town of Lima, Ohio for several reasons; including the overwhelming need we saw among local families. Roz being a recruiter for the Ohio Army National Guard was allowed a glimpse into the lives and homes of some poverty stricken people. Believe it or not, there are still people with no bed and homes with dirt floors in Lima, Ohio.
Now what you need to realize is we had little previous experience of running a business, just some internet auctions, and a small moving company Roz ran for about a year. We had no experience with retail sales or how a thrift store would operate but we did have a desire to be successful and wanted to help the community. The first thing we did was look for the perfect location - a location we thought we could afford. We remember signing our first lease for $96,000 (that’s ninety six thousand dollars) – it got us a whopping 5,000 square feet of space for two years. Normally when you sign papers for such a large amount you get something in return such as a car, a house, something. We got a large empty space, and were wondering how in the world we were going to fill up this humungous building and pay the rent.
The business boomed from the get go. We sold out of items and our shelves and clothing racks quickly became bare. The donations we were receiving were sparse, so we resorted to buying items from garage sales and other thrift stores for 25 cents and selling them for 50 cents just to keep product in the store. We had five employees at the start, and three of them were relatives. We worked endless hours at times and made a half hour drive to and from the store every day. It was an exciting yet draining time.
Through all this we had no religious foundation to rely on. We were not attending church, nor praying that God would help us in our new endeavor, nor striving to live for anyone but ourselves. But God was moving in our lives and in our business, we just didn’t know it yet. God chose to reveal Himself to us about one year into our endeavor. He used our children to lead us to Him. We decided it was time for our two children to have some “religion” in their lives and began to visit a church that some of our relatives were attending. That’s when the Lord opened our eyes to see the sin that was in our lives and our standing before Him; we prayed for forgiveness and both of us accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we were “born again”. Now what this new “born again” life in Christ meant was that not only had we trusted in Christ but we also surrendered our hearts and control of lives over to the Him. We immediately realized that when you truly turn your life over to Christ this means all areas, and for us it included the business.
Our little business took on a whole new perspective. It was no longer a thrift store selling used merchandise, but a ministry to meet the needs of God’s people. We began to pray, “God, this business is yours, we are yours, and do what you want with both.” And He did. The business exploded. We outgrew the 5,000 sq ft building and a 3,000 sq ft storage building so we decided to open a second store, another 8,000 sq ft. We filled that store in a matter of months and were out of room again. (Malachi 3:10-12)
The question Heather and I continued to ask ourselves was “why was all this happening to us?” Who were we to be so blessed? Now again, the priority of our business had changed. Our main goal became to serve God and allow Him to use us to meet the needs of those who needed help for whatever reason; this included material needs but more importantly their need for God and a Savior. We set up relationships with all the local assistance agencies and helped their clients; giving away clothing, beds, furniture, household items, baby car seats & beds; you name it we gave it away – all for FREE! We remember getting a call one time simply for a pair of shoes. Amazing, we have to decide which pair to wear in the morning and here was someone who didn’t have any. But as we gave away these items something strange was happening. As soon as we gave away one bed, five more were donated. We would give away a shopping cart full of clothes and get a truckload donated. It soon became evident that there was no way to out give the provider of all – GOD.
This was a wonderful and exhausting time in our lives. Managing two stores and working full time as a recruiter and raising two young daughters was becoming too much for our family. Heather was owner of the business, accountant, and wearing an array of other hats; not to mention being a fulltime mom and wife. God moved again and presented us with the opportunity to purchase a mega building, complete with loading docks, overhead doors and an established tenant. Thoughts of consolidating the two existing locations into one “super store” began to become a prayer of ours. Not because we wanted to be bigger but we were wearing down emotionally and physically. As good as this all sounded there was just one little problem – we had no money. We were already shelling out over $8,000 a month in rent plus paying double utilities, double insurance and double payroll and the business’s daily sales were not doubling. Again, we committed the decision and outcome to prayer and somehow, someway, God worked it out and we purchased this “dream building” with only $10,000 down (and where we got the down payment from we still don’t know).
Today, with 20 plus paid employees the Lord is continually opening doors to use us and our business to build His kingdom. Our hope is that through our lives, and the ministry He has entrusted us with that we will meet the needs of His people, bring Glory and honor to His name and share with people about His great love for them and the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
The truth of the matter is that the same God that did these miracles in our business and life can and will do miracles in your life too; if you surrender and commit your life to him like we did.
Our prayer for you is that somehow through our story, you will see that God is real and desires to have a personal relationship with you also. Eternal life is a gift from God, it’s free, and it can be yours. Will you humble yourself, confess your sin and trust in him today?
Pray to Him: “Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and ask that you forgive me of my sins and help me to turn away from my past sinful life and toward you. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
If you have confessed with your mouth and believed with your heart you are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come; you have been “born again” Praise God! If you accepted Christ today as your Lord and Savior we want to rejoice with you and pray for you. Let us know by replying to : 1500 Elida Rd, Lima, OH 45805 419-999-4483 (GIVE) www.neighborhoodrelief.com
God Bless You. Dave & Heather