The building at 1923 Bacharach Boulevard has evolved over the years to fit the needs of the community surrounding it.
A casino dealer school for potential casino employees. A hangout for the city’s most at-risk teens. A haven for those rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. A theater to spread holiday cheer.
Now, the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, which currently leases the building down the block from its own headquarters, is hoping the newest venture — a thrift store that officially opened this week — will help the growing numbers the mission is serving in light of this year’s job losses.
This time of year, with the holidays still in full force and unemployment benefits dwindling for former workers of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, has caused the mission to be busier than normal, Brown said.
“Here we are, on the mends of Hurricane Sandy. Now we have this economic depressing in our area with the casino closings,” he said. “We decided no better time existed than now to put up Mission Thrift.”
As with any other business, Brown said diversifying has become the name of the game to serve those growing numbers. That’s where the thrift shop, called Mission Thrift, comes in. Proceeds from sales goes directly back into the mission, he said.
The idea of a shop has lingered in Rescue Mission conversations for years, but Brown said it really took off as soon after they bought a 15-year lease on the building on Bacharach Boulevard.
Offering services other than the typical food pantries and shelters is not new for rescue missions, he said. Touring missions and non-profits across the country, Brown said he saw some institutions with unique ways of helping their communities. The Capital City Rescue Mission in Albany, NY, opened a butcher shop; the executive director’s father was a butcher for many years, Brown said.
“How do we stand out and make sure there are other ways, not expensive ways, to promote the mission’s mission?” he said.
The 1,600-square feet that the thrift shop occupies has shelves filled with beauty products and toiletries, kitchen wares, and garments that still have store tags on them. Volunteers who regularly work with and even stay at the Rescue Mission restock shelves and check customers out.
Many of the items are donated by agencies and groups across the state with overflows of inventory, or things stores don’t carry anymore. The fact that the items are donations can allow the mission to cut down prices much lower than regular retail value, Brown said.
Take the Ugg brand boots Atlantic City resident Tasha Butler bought a week ago. She visited Mission Thrift after watching her 13-year-old twin daughters perform in the mission’s holiday show “A Christmas Miracle.” The shop had a soft opening following the mission’s each of the mission’s shows.
The tan fabric boots cost Butler $4, when a similar pair retails for more than $150 on the Ugg Australia website. She said she also got a deal on a brand new-looking pair of Nike sneakers, only setting her back $2. The deals were so great, she decided to show Mission Thrift off to a couple of her friends Saturday.
“I’m a mother of five, so getting a good price is important to me,” said Butler, 41. “If more people knew about this place, it would take off.”