The Cartersville-Bartow Community Church Shop at 21 W. Main St. has been around since 1965, but you might have never noticed it.
The shop, which sells gently used clothes and small household goods, stands unassuming in the heart of downtown. For its half-century celebration, the shop will have a tent in Friendship Plaza during the Cartersville Bluegrass & Folk Festival next Saturday, Oct. 17, where efforts will be made to promote its mission in the community.
“Maybe there’s people that are coming to the bluegrass festival that don’t know anything about us, but they can walk up and kind of look around [and] see what we’re about,” said shop President Adina Wood, who added that guests would be offered free balloons and informative brochures.
So what, exactly, are they about at the shop? In this case, “they” refers to a team of about 50 volunteers from 16 different churches in the local area. The shop has one paid employee who works on a part-time basis. All other proceeds are donated to nonprofit entities around Bartow County. Anyone may come in and purchase items from the store, which has a price limit of about $20.
Over the years, the shop has assisted those in need by offering merchandise at a minimum price, sometimes even donating items in specific situations. For example, those who enter the store with a voucher from the Division of Family and Children Services are entitled to three free outfits. The shop also provides multiple packages each month to new mothers in need of goods to care for their children.
Fifteen-year shop volunteer and current board member Martha Lewis said she’s even seen people garner a paid job after purchasing appropriate clothing from their store.
“And a lot of times, these outfits, I mean, they’re nice, gently used clothes,” she explained. “And a lot of times, these people that come in here with their vouchers, they’re looking for a job and they don’t have the right clothes. And we can help them get those clothes to proceed getting back on track with getting a job. And we’ve got a lot of feedback from people through the years [who] were able to pursue and get a job.”
The shop originated in what Wood described as “basically a back room” inside First Presbyterian Church. Over the course of the next 25 years, it changed locations multiple times. In 1990, it landed in what has now become its permanent home. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to be done on the upkeep.
“We do have some things that need to be addressed ..., so we’re hoping and praying that someone will come along and make a nice contribution to our building fund — if you want to call it that,” noted Lewis.
Wood and Lewis said the building has had issues with leaking toilets, which they’ve had to shut off, and water-damaged floors left over from recently repaired gutters. They also are seeking to refinish the old hardwood flooring under the carpet that currently covers the floor.
In addition to clothes or household items — which can be written off taxes — the shop now seeks monetary or professional services donations to help repair and maintain its facility. Lewis said members from more churches are always welcome to volunteer at the shop as well.
“We would like to see more churches in Cartersville and Bartow County that are not involved to consider coming down and getting the information and start participating with the church shop,” she said, “because it is for the community for Cartersville and Bartow County.”
The shop is typically open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. On the day of the bluegrass festival, it will remain open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit the shop’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CartersvilleCS1965.org or call 770-382-8445.