Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Quayle, Skyline partner to open thrift store in northeast OKC

10/5/2019

Members of OKC-Quayle and community representatives hold a banner announcing a new thrift store at the church at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 28. Rev. Erica Thomas (far left) felt called to pursue a “God-sized dream” to open a thrift store at OKC-Quayle because there are no other thrift stores in northeast Oklahoma City. From left to right: Thomas, Robert Irby, Councilwoman Nikki Nice, Brandi Davis, Revs. Bessie and Elvyn Hamilton, and Cindy Van Kley of the Oklahoma City Black Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Cherryl Seard.
Rev. Erica Thomas was sitting in a Goodwill Industries board meeting in early 2018 when she realized there were no thrift stores in northeast Oklahoma City.

The observation inspired her to start a conversation with Rev. Deborah Ingraham, executive director of Skyline Urban Ministry, about partnering together to open a thrift store at OKC-Quayle, where Thomas serves as an associate pastor.

The result of their partnership is Skyline @ Quayle. The store held its grand opening on Sept. 28.

“When I was talking with Deborah, I learned that over 2,000 people from this zip code go over to Southeast 15th to go to Skyline,” Thomas said. “Most of these people have no transportation, and they’re having to do this. We should have the same advantages in this part of the city that every other part of the city has.”

Skyline @ Quayle offers clothes and accessories for women, men and children. Most items are two dollars, including professional wear such as blazers, suit pants, dresses and dress shoes.

Shoppers explore the selection of women’s blazers and professional wear during the Skyline @ Quayle Church thrift store opening on Sept. 29. Photo by Cherryl Seard.

“I’m a believer in collaboration, I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel if I don’t have to,” Thomas said. “We’re really trying to mirror what they did so that it would be consistent and it wouldn’t be confusing to anyone. Our goal is really to get those 73111 people to come here so that they don’t have to travel that 15 or 20 minutes, all day by bus, or whatever it is they have to do.”

Thomas said the store is also creating space for a food closet. She is hopeful that the greenhouse and raised beds on the OKC-Quayle property can be used to grow fresh produce for the community.

“We have had in the past some raised beds out there that are not needed at the moment, so that’s the other part of that visioning process,” Thomas said. “There’s a greenhouse in the back that we had used, so we have so much potential here at 5001 N. Everest Ave. There’s just so much potential, and once people see it going, they will want to get on board.”

Ingraham said Skyline is happy to be on board and offer their support, including training for database and inventory management and sharing with their patrons that the Quayle location is open and available. She also said Skyline hopes to provide a mobile food pantry to help supplement the Quayle food closet.

“Folks who live in low-income areas who have pockets of poverty don’t have the means to get to where they need to go, and even if they can get to Walmart or Target, their income is limited,” Ingraham said. “Having a thrift store that has gone through things and put out things that are quality and usable can make someone’s life different. It can change the person who’s starting over, a child who has more dignity, or a grandparent who wants to buy their grandchild a new blouse.”

Rev. Elvyn Hamiltion, who pastors OKC-Quayle with his wife Bessie, said he’s excited for the church to host a ministry that makes serving the community easier by offering tangible resources to those who need them.

“Our groundwork has led us to a place of providing quality goods for the community at a low price, and the proceeds will help us further serve the neediest in our community,” Hamilton said. “I am happy that Quayle Church takes this vision to heart and is doing great work to serve our people.”

Above: Rev. Erica Thomas shows the variety of clothes available on Sept. 19 while preparing for the grand opening of Skyline @ Quayle on Sept. 28. In addition to clothing, the store also offers shoes, belts, hats, ties, purses, backpacks and other accessories. Below: The prices at Skyline @ Quayle mirror the prices of the Clothing Closet at Skyline Urban Ministry’s downtown location. Thomas says the price matching is an effort to make the shopping experience at OKC-Quayle mirror the experience at Skyline’s downtown location. Photos by Meagan Ewton.

Thomas thinks the community conditions are right for the ministry to grow out of its current space. She anticipates the store getting cleaned out periodically because of high demand in the community.

“I believe that this can be much bigger than what we’re doing,” Thomas said. “We want to outgrow the space. We want to be able to do so much more to serve the community.”

Like Thomas, Ingraham hopes the ministry outgrows its building. She also hopes people will realize that the people who donate to the ministry and the people who benefit from its presence are the same.

“When you donate, you are the hands and feet of Christ; when you receive, the one who receives is the least of these and is Christ as well,” Ingraham said. “We all need to realize that those who need are no different from those with abundance, and I’m not sure how to say that any differently.”

Hamilton said the church is looking for partners who will support the work of the ministry as it grows.

“We are not just serving physical needs,” Hamilton said. “We are unashamedly proclaiming the reason we serve, the love of Jesus. Our relationship with Jesus compels us to serve and we offer spiritual support to those who desire it.”

Thomas loves what Skyline does for Oklahoma City, and she believes there’s no reason OKC-Quayle can’t mirror the same work in their community.

“I really feel like God is going to use this, and, well, why not? Why not us?” Thomas said. “Who knows what that’s gonna look like next year, but I believe it’s going to be pretty good. It’s God-sized. Let’s do it.”

 

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