The merchandise at the Bargain Basket is, well, a bargain. But the United Church of Marco Island, which operates the Bargain Basket Thrift Store, found a high-ticket item they felt was the best bargain of all. They bought the store.

Specifically, the church paid off all their notes, and now owns the Bargain Basket free and clear. This, said Senior Pastor Mark Williams, will allow the church and the Bargain Basket to dedicate more dollars to the community missions that are at the heart of their service.

“We borrowed against the generosity of the congregation,” said Williams. “We did not take out a mortgage against a bank. And because of our faithful donors, volunteers, and shoppers, we paid off our loan in just six years.”

The store held a ceremony on August 31 to celebrate the “soon to be debt-free” building. In all, 11 families who are United Church members each loaned between $50,000 and $150,000 to the church, for a total of $700,000 in promissory notes he said carried “just a nominal rate of interest” to offset inflation.

“So what now that the loan has been paid off? More. Specifically, more mission,” Williams told those gathered at the store. “Now that the building has been paid off, we plan to go further and farther with our generosity to make an even stronger impact in our local community and beyond.”

With funds from the Bargain Basket and donations from the congregation, the United Church has already made a sizable impact. They have made ongoing contributions to Habitat for Humanity, The Marco Island YMCA, Hope for Haiti, St. Matthew’s House, Meals of Hope, Grace Place, the Harry Chapin Food Bank, and the food pantry at the Family Church formerly known as Our Daily Bread.

So when you shop at the Bargain Basket, you can feel good knowing your purchases go to support some worthy causes. You can also find some real bargains on good quality clothing, home goods and accessories.

“Boutique clothing is our money maker,” said Bargain Basket manager Samantha “Sam” Kopren. “We get a ton of Chico’s clothes – so much it has its own department.” The Chico’s apparel is priced from $6, and the Bargain Basket has a chart to help decipher Chico’s unique sizing system.

On the day of the celebration, you could find even more spectacular savings. They offered 50 percent off everything in the store, holding a sale that brought in over $5,800 – “unheard of for this time of year,” said Kopren. “This is the slow time of year. We’re especially grateful for donations that come in now.”

The sale was also strategically timed to thin out the merchandise a little, so they could do some painting and sprucing up, without having to shift quite so many items. The store also needed a new roof after Hurricane Irma; that work has been completed, and is also paid for, said Williams.

Shoppers at the store on a recent rainy Friday said the liked the quality of goods on display – “we only keep the good stuff,” said Kopren – and the experience of shopping there.

“You couldn’t find a better store. I’m happy as a lark,” said Sonja Hunter. “It’s raining – where else could we go?”

“It’s comfortable and warm, and you don’t feel smothered,” added Melody Brannan. “And Beall’s is just around the corner.”

The Bargain Basket, just north of Collier Blvd. on Bald Eagle Drive, has had issues with the city in the past about the amount of parking there, but Williams said that has been worked out.

“With the use of compact spaces, and parking in the back, we satisfied the city,” he said. But come January, he allowed, parking will be tight, as it is everywhere on Marco Island.

The Bargain Basket is a store with a heart, with helping others as its core mission, said Williams.

“I really feel the Bargain Basket is part of what makes Marco Island great,” he said. “It’s a beautiful island where people love to live, and they also love to give. That’s what the Bargain Basket is all about – giving and giving and giving.”

The store offers unbeatable bargains on equipment to help increase seniors’ mobility – free, gratis, no charge.

“It’s a layered mission concept – people on the island donate out of the goodness of their heart, we sell the items, and their generosity is pumped back into the community.” Last year, the store generated over $100,000 in donations – and that was before they retired their debt.

If you go

  • Bargain Basket
  • 750 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island
  • 239-394-6640
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