More than you ‘bargained’ for
The offer is straightforward: bring in some canned goods to the Bargain Basket for the Our Daily Bread food pantry and you can receive a $3 gift certificate.
Three dollars might not seem like such a great incentive, but at the United Church of Marco Island’s Bargain Basket thrift store, it goes a long way. That $3 coupon will buy you a blouse, or a pair of shoes, or a pair of pants, or a hat, plus a belt and a necktie.
The store has an entire section of clothing from Chico’s, each item priced at just $6.
Beyond clothes, Bargain Basket has an extensive collection of china, wine glasses, housewares and even furniture.
All of the store’s merchandise is included in its “Christmas in July” promotion, in which the staff is attempting to bring in food donations to benefit the local Marco Island-based Our Daily Bread food pantry, store manager Samantha “Sam” Kopren said. The staff will even be pulling out their holiday decorations early to add a festive theme to a very serious concept: keeping people fed who are having trouble making ends meet.
“During the summer, we slow down, donations as well as customers,” Kopren said, but families need to eat year round, and summers can be particularly difficult for families that take advantage of the free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch options offered at schools.
Bargain Basket is a store with a heart, with helping others as its core mission, United Church senior pastor Mark Williams said.
“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.
“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.”
Donations to the store generate cash, which the church uses to support a wide range of charitable endeavors, including Habitat for Humanity, Grace Place, St. Matthew’s House, the Shelter for Abused Women and Children, the YMCA, and Liberty Youth Ranch, along with scholarships for deserving students.
The store has about 120 volunteers on its roster, although many of those are seasonal. Some have been helping out for decades.
Evelyn “Evy” DeFino has been a volunteer since 1990, marking her 27th year with Bargain Basket, at a variety of locations. On a recent Wednesday, she sat in the back room, pricing up a set of antique silver.
When Bargain Basket has busy times, parking has been an issue, as it is for so many city businesses. The city flagged the store at its current location three years ago, but has been working with them since, Williams said.
“We want to work with the city. They allowed us to create compact parking spaces, which will let us fit more cars into our existing area,” a program he said is in progress but has not yet resulted in restriping any spaces.
“We’re trying to be innovative about ways we can operate to help alleviate the problem” he said.
Initiatives include opening more registers during sale events and busy times, and scheduling timed promotions during what would normally be less popular shopping times. The store is also expanding Thursday evening hours until 6 p.m., to accommodate people working on the island.
Bargain Basket doesn’t just sell items, United Church of Marco Island associate pastor and director of outreach Chris Sheriff said; the store also offers unbeatable bargains on equipment to help increase seniors’ mobility – free, gratis, no charge.
“We loan canes, walkers, shower seats, transporter chairs and more” available without charge to those who could benefit, Sheriff said. “It’s a way to reach out to the community and continue our ministry.”
So if you would like to experience a little Christmas in July – who knows, it could even make the weather seem cooler – visit Bargain Basket during the week of July 24 through 29, donate any canned goods and receive a $3 certificate to be used that day.
Or to find a bargain on good quality merchandise, help out the community with your purchases, and for that matter, bring canned goods to donate without receiving a gift certificate, stop by whenever.
IF YOU GO
Where: 750 Bald Eagle Drive
When: Monday - Wednesday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Friday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Sunday, closed
Information: (239) 394-6640