When Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM) opened the doors to another thrift shop location with 7North, it was with decidedly modern and fashionable flair.
The Seventh Avenue storefront in Jacksonville Beach showcases a thrift store more akin to a boutique, with selections of everything from furniture and jewelry to books and clothing. Susan Taylor, BEAM’s thrift operations manager, said the selection and location made for the perfect flagship store.
“The location off of A1A is perfect for visibility, and the building was blighted so we were able to create a beautiful environment for the Beaches community,” Taylor said of the new store’s flagship status. “It’s an easy access point for donation drop-offs and a convenient location.”
7North marks the third BEAM thrift store; the first opened on Shetter Avenue in November 2013, followed by a second store in Mayport. Now four months into operations, Taylor said 7North has been very well received by the community, which translates to the greater good of Beaches’ residents in need.
“The reception has been amazing,” she said. “I’ve always known BEAM was well-supported in the community, but it’s been rewarding to see people want to help.”
According to Taylor, in addition to a growing customer base, the thrift stoe’s operations have also been well-received with donors who provide goods to the store.
“I think (customers) have warmed to the idea of a clean and well-organized thrift store,” she said, “and donors appreciate seeing their items displayed respectfully.”
The arrangements add to what Taylor calls a “department store experience,” wherein tables and dining sets are shown in functional displays alongside china cabinets and art. The store features a “library” selection of books as well as linens, jewelry displays and floor space dedicated to dressers, sofas and chairs.
The store is largely staffed by volunteers, which Taylor said keeps expenses low so that more money can be channeled into essential BEAM services.
“I think the attitudes of the volunteers working in the store have made the difference,” she said. “It’s just full of warm and friendly people who believe in BEAM’s mission and who have a vested interest in seeing it succeed and continue.”
Like all BEAM thrift locations, 7North provides an income stream to fund BEAM programs while allowing the ministry’s services to be self-sustainable. The system works by giving community members the opportunity to shop and the chance to contribute to BEAM through patronage and donations, and the money stays local.
The profits then go directly to financial assistance programs run by the ministry: BEAM’s rent and utilities programs, food pantries, Back to School with BEAM, single-parent project and the nutritional program are funded through thrift store proceeds.
“All (of our) thrift stores help the community continue with BEAM’s mission,” Taylor said. “And with BEAM, we’re helping provide an essential service to people struggling in our own backyard.”
Taylor welcomed community members to help by volunteering. BEAM offers volunteer opportunities through 7North, which is staffed by approximately 40 volunteers weekly. Volunteer applications may be found at www.jaxbeam.org/volunteer.