At some point in your life, you have probably heard the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” And if you have ever visited a thrift store, then you know that is, in fact, true.
If you have stopped by Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church in the last few years, you have seen firsthand all of the treasures that can be found covering the ground floor of their church building. From large furniture items to children’s toys and household knickknacks, this little slice of paradise for any local thrifter is QQThrift.
QQThrift started when, like many churches, Quapaw Quarter UMC wanted to find a way to raise money for its donation-run missions while also witnessing to the needs of the community. When the idea of a thrift store was discussed, all of the pieces seemed to fall into place.
Since opening, the thrift store has been a huge success, thanks to the help of volunteers and church members, many of whom have generously donated a lot of the merchandise, including some valuable antiques that are sold on eBay. Church member Joe Rook, who runs estate sales, was able to help the church obtain donations to get the thrift store started.
Harold Hughes, lay member and QQThrift volunteer, said there was a twofold purpose for opening the thrift store: “to generate revenue for the church, and to serve as outreach to the homeless and financially disadvantaged in the area.”
In addition to keeping nonperishable sack lunches available for the homeless, they are also provided with clothing and the like from the thrift store’s inventory.
“We manage to hand out food and clothing to the homeless every day we are open, much as we do through our church office during the week,” said Hughes.
The thrift store is managed by longtime church members Sandy Bidwell and Lisa Smith and staffed by several volunteer church members and friends. Even with very little advertising done for the thrift store, they have watched it become an important part of their ministry.
The building that Quapaw Quarter UMC is located in has been a staple in downtown Little Rock for almost 100 years, even being added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1982. It was placed for sale years ago, but after the church decided to stay in the location and the building was taken off the market, the church realized it had lost connection with the community.
“We had our building for sale for a while, and many of our neighbors actually thought we were gone,” Hughes said.
An unforeseen benefit of the thrift store is that the church has gained new members and revived attention in the area.
“One of the outcomes of establishing this ministry is that it has raised our awareness in the immediate community,” said Hughes. “Now we are becoming more and more part of the fiber of South Main Street.”
After closing for a year and a half during the pandemic, they reopened last June and have been open regularly ever since.
With a core base of a little over a dozen volunteers and a constant stream of customers, Hughes said he sees this being an ongoing ministry that he hopes will become an every-weekend thing in the future.
Hughes added, “As long as this ministry keeps working, we will be there!”
QQThrift is located on the ground level of Quapaw Quarter UMC at 16th and Louisiana in Downtown Little Rock and is currently open on the second and fourth weekends of each month from 2 to 5 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
If you’re interested in volunteering, please visit the Quapaw Quarter UMC website.
Learn more about QQThrift on their Facebook page.
All proceeds go directly to the church in an attempt to keep it and its donation-run missions active in their current downtown historic-building location.