The fire was reported at around 7 a.m. Tuesday. The incident— the cause of which is still unknown — left all the furniture, clothing and other merchandise inside the building ruined. The thrift store is owned by Haven of Mercy Ministries, which serves individuals without a home or who have financial needs.
“It’s totaled. Fire damage, smoke damage,” said Grant Rockley, pastor and CEO of Haven of Mercy Ministries. “Everything we’ve got in there’s gone.”
District Chief Mark Beasley of the Johnson City Fire Department told the Johnson City Press Tuesday morning when the emergency services arrived, smoke was billowing out the back and various other points in the structure. They were able to mitigate the fire quickly, but donations in the back of the building were burned up. No injuries were reported.
Rockley said the approximately 10,000-square-foot facility accounted for about 60 percent of the ministry’s income. The thrift store was a location where those served by the shelter could get clothing and furniture and work if they needed a job. It also sold donated items to the public.
The exact extent of damage to the structure is not yet known. In the meantime, Rockley said he is looking into getting a temporary structure to operate the thrift store business out of until a permanent store can be rebuilt to keep some money coming in. He is also hoping to build a third shelter at the same time as the thrift store, saying the ministry has been in need of one and had already planned to construct one on the neighboring property.
Haven of Mercy Ministries operates a men’s shelter, housing 75 to 100, and one for women with a usual capacity of 15 to 30, depending on the need. The new facility would be for women and children or small families.
For anyone who would like to help Haven of Mercy Ministries, Rockley said the best way is to donate by sending a check to 123 Millard St. or dropping it by the shelter.
“This is devastating, it really is but …. There’s always going to be an answer,” said Rockley.