By RICK WATSON
Bargain hunters in Homewood and surrounding communities will soon be able to “get a bargain and give a blessing” when the new Jimmie Hale Mission Possible Bargain Center opens later this year. The upscale thrift store has leased the former Flooring & Rug section of the Mazer complex on Green Springs Highway in Homewood.
All profits from the Mission Possible Bargain Centers go to support nonprofit Jimmie Hale Mission’s programs and services for homeless and disadvantaged people in Birmingham.
Jimmie Hale began a lease on the Mazer Flooring & Rug building on July 1 with a goal of opening for business in September.
Vestavia Hills had earlier turned down a proposal for their new Bargain Center location. According to Tony Cooper, , who has been the executive director of Jimmie Hale Mission for the past 21 years, many people in the area support the mission, but a vocal group in opposition turned out for the city council meeting where it was under discussion.
As it turns out, Mike Mazer called a few days later and offered Mazer’s Flooring and Rug showroom in Homewood as a retail space for the Mission Possible Bargain Center.
“The Homewood Chamber of Commerce told us they wanted us to come to Homewood, and when I went to the Homewood City Council meeting to discuss the proposal, they gave Jimmie Hale Mission a standing ovation,” Cooper said.
The Mazer building is “move-in ready.” “All we have to do is add a loading dock and build dressing rooms to be ready to go,” Cooper said.
Cooper is excited about the location because it’s in the middle of a vibrant, high traffic business district just off of Interstate 65 and close to Hoover, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills. He said that because thrift stores share customers, being close to the Salvation Army and America’s Thrift Stores is a bonus.
The Homewood facility is the fourth Mission Possible Bargain to open since the original store opened in the Eastwood area in 2000. The other stores are located in Pinson and Hanceville.
“We strive for the ‘wow’ factor when new customers walk into our stores,”
Cooper said. People are often surprised how neat, clean and organized the stores are when they come in to a Jimmie Hale Mission Possible Bargain Center.
Mission Possible Bargain Centers stock what they call “gently used” merchandise, which is then sold at affordable prices. This attracts customers of a variety of income levels.
Some people drive up in their Mercedes or BMW to shop at the Mission Possible Bargain Center, Cooper said. “These people could afford to shop anywhere in Alabama, but they love finding chic clothing for a bargain.”
Like other thrift stores, all merchandise comes through donations. Jimmie Hale schedules some pickups, but they have to be selective because it can be costly, especially if the donation is small. Most people choose to drop off their donations at the stores. Donors also receive a tax deduction.
Customers also have the satisfaction of knowing that the dollars they spend at the Mission Possible Bargain Centers go to support worthy programs and services. The recent outbreak of violent tornadoes in Alabama in April also left many people homeless.
“Personal storms can be just as devastating as natural storms,” Cooper said. The proceeds from the thrift stores, provide funding that allows Jimmie Hale to offer needed assistance to these people.
“The Jimmie Hale Mission has done so much to help others, and we are fortunate to have them,” said Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer. “I trust they will continue to bless others while here in Homewood. The residents of Homewood are very compassionate and accepting, so I have no doubt about the success of the Jimmie Hale Mission. “
Cooper said he and others at Jimmie Hale were a little down after Vestavia Hills did not approve their original location proposal, but after the reception at the Homewood City Hall, they knew they’d found the right place for their store.
For more information about the Jimmie Hale Mission, visit www.jimmiehalemission.com.