Three days before grand opening, Kelly Whitham stepped out of her office onto a newly refurbished and fully stocked sales floor.
“I stand here and look around and it kind of takes my breath away,” she said.
Kelly is director of retail operations for Carpenter’s Place, a Rockford ministry to homeless people. The organization has turned the former Hilander and Schnucks grocery store at 1715 Rural St. into Carpenter’s Corner, a new thrift store. After months of transformation, it opens to the public this Friday, March 10, at 9 a.m.
On Tuesday, the store buzzed with activity. The staff of 20 finalized displays and continued processing donations — including those collected at First Free’s Christmas Traditions event. The 29,000-square-foot store has an upscale look and feel; many of the display fixtures were donated by Crimson Ridge, the longtime florist and gift shop that closed recently. Along with thousands of clothing, furniture and home-furnishing items, the store features a bike section and a kids’ library.
Carpenter’s Corner will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Drive-up donations are accepted during those same hours. Proceeds support the ministry of Carpenter’s Place.
Carpenter’s Place is one of two local homeless ministries supported by First Free’s Reach Rockford initiative. The other, Rockford Rescue Mission, operates its huge Thrift Store at 2710 20th St.
Kelly asked for prayer that would apply equally to both ministries: “That donors continue to bless us so we can continue to bless the homeless population of Rockford. It’s pretty simple, really.”