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Ministry’s thrift store gets facelift
Melissa Barnett, from left, Andy Glawe and Jackie Batson look over some swatches for the countertops during renovations at Whispering Hope’s Bargain Boutique in Tri-County Plaza. - photo by Micah Green

CUMMING — Leaders of a Forsyth ministry hope a renovation project will help it grow.

Work began earlier this month on an upgrade of Whispering Hope’s Bargain Boutique in Tri-County Plaza.

Whispering Hope is a Christian ministry that helps women who are facing unplanned pregnancies with resources such as pregnancy tests, ultrasound screenings, counseling and assistance after their babies are born.

In 2013, the ministry assisted nearly 400 women through more than 2,000 appointments.

The Bargain Boutique is one of the nonprofit’s primary sources of funding throughout the year.

Jackie Batson, executive director of Whispering Hope, said the thrift store began four years ago as a “short-term fundraiser in a donated space on McFarland Road.”

“It was intended to be a temporary fundraiser, but it went so well that we wanted to make it permanent,” she said. “We had a grand opening in April 2011.”

After three years, Batson and others of the store decided it was time the facility had a facelift.

“We needed to take it to the next level,” Batson said. “We need to make more money for the ministry.

“It has always covered itself and done well, but it could be much better and we’re looking for that. We’re looking for it to be our largest revenue generator for the ministry.”

According to Batson, that cause is something many volunteers have gotten behind. She said several churches have sent groups to help with the project, which included removing a wall across the front of the facility that kept most merchandise out of sight.

“This was a karate studio before we moved in, so we just went with what was here,” Batson said. “But now we know it’s time to change things up to create a better retail space.”

Other projects have included building a side wall to allow for a new register and in-take area, removing old carpet, plumbing and electrical upgrades, and painting throughout.

The new store also will have a different feel.

“I’ve been using the term ‘upscale retail,’” she said. “In doing that, we want to limit the low-end of items … we want to try to improve the quality of the items that we take in and even have some local artisans bring pieces in.

“We hope when people come in that it just doesn’t look like your average thrift store. We’re truly going for the boutique feel.”

Other changes at the store include the addition of a new manager, Andy Glawe, and assistant manager, Melissa Barnett, both of whom say they are looking forward to supporting the ministry.

“With my experience and background of nine years at a big box retailer, I’m hoping to really drive sales and help bring in some more revenue,” Glawe said.

Added Barnett: “I’m most excited about just rebranding the Bargain Boutique … because I’m so passionate about their ministry and to the community and the families they touch.”

A “soft reopening” of the store is slated for May 2, with a grand reopening event on May 17.

“We’re planning a big sidewalk and parking lot event with hot dogs, balloons, face painting and more on the 17th,” Baston said.

The Bargain Boutique will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday after May 2.

“We hope the renovations will be a big help in our mission at the store — saving babies one bargain at a time,” Batson said.