MINT HILL, NC – Situated on Lawyers Road just outside of Mint Hill’s downtown corridor is one of the best thrift shops you’ll find in the greater Charlotte area: Servant’s Heart Community Boutique.
In September of 2022, Owner and Executive Director Kim Rhodarmer was thrilled to see Servant’s Heart chosen as one of the top thrift shops in the greater Charlotte area in the Charlotte Observer’s 2022 Reader’s Choice Contest.
“We ended up fourth in all of Charlotte!” says Boutique Manager Billie McIntosh. “And we’re talking greater Charlotte,” adds Rhodarmer. “There were stores as far away as Salisbury, and a lot of the other stores nominated had been around decades longer than we have.”
Open since September 1, 2016, Servant’s Heart Community Boutique is known for offering high quality secondhand items at competitive prices.
Walking in the front door at Servant’s Heart, you might think clothing is its main source of revenue, but it’s actually the home goods you’ll find in the back of the store. “Small electronics in good working order, kitchen gadgetry, artwork, hard covered books, sheet sets, curtains, linens in good condition,” says McIntosh. “Those are the things that rotate out of here the fastest.”
Providing a high quality product starts in the back of the store, where volunteers accept donations every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10:00 am – 1:30 pm. “Some people ask, ‘Why can’t I just bring my donations anytime?’” says Rhodarmer. “It’s because we have volunteers positioned on those days – rain, sleet, snow or blazing sun – to help receive the donations and begin the sorting process before they make their way into the building or to another place.”
You read that right: every item you drop off at Servant’s Heart might not wind up on the floor, but you can rest assured that it will be put to use. Items that aren’t a good fit for Servant’s Heart are placed in a bin for the Kidney Foundation, who picks them up twice a week. Some adult apparel and most children’s clothing go to New Hope Baptist church, a partner organization whom Servant’s Heart often sends clients in need of children’s clothing.
It’s partnerships like this that not only ensure what you’re donating doesn’t go to waste but also that Servant’s Heart is offering a high-quality product to its customers at a price you won’t find anywhere else.
“When we get jewelry donated, volunteers go through and check for stamps, marks, any identification that it might be higher quality,” says McIntosh. “We have a volunteer from Perry’s Jewelry who takes that jewelry and lets us know if we have something special and the price we can charge for it. The other thing they’ll do is buy broken jewelry from us at a very reasonable rate.” What that means is that the jewelry you see in locked cases at Servant’s Heart is the real deal, with descriptions and prices coming directly from a professional gemologist.
“We have another gentleman who comes in probably once a week and replaces watch batteries for us,” says Billie. “If there’s a minor repair that needs done, and it’s a watch that he feels is worthy of that, he’ll do that for us at no charge. Also, he evaluates our high end watches. If they aren’t working, that’s when they go to eBay for parts, so we may still be able to get something for the donation.”
EBay has become another unexpected and lucrative source of income for the boutique over the past three years. “It actually started with a customer who used to shop with us and sell our stuff on eBay!” laughs McIntosh. “He said he was buying stuff at our sidewalk sale for $1 and selling it for $30, but when he learned more about our mission, he felt like he needed to volunteer, so he came in and got us set up with eBay.”
Assistant Manager Allison McDonald is now the point person for eBay, which she leverages to sell items that have value but won’t necessarily sell in Mint Hill. Rhodarmer gives the example of an Arizona-themed pitcher and glasses that they determined, with a little research, could sell for $250. “We knew with a great measure of confidence that if we put that $250 set out in our store, we just wouldn’t have an audience for that,” she explains, “but we put it on eBay, and it sold.”
Servant’s Heart Community Boutique is a self-funding feature of Servant’s Heart Assistance Programs, meaning that both donating and shopping supports Servant’s Heart in its mission to help families who are struggling financially. Revenue from the store directly supports Servant’s Heart’s assistance programs, but it also supports day-to-day operations.
“The difference is that when you donate to assistance programs, those are designated funds,” explains Rhodarmer. “They have to be used specifically for the programs to which they are donated. When you purchase something in the community boutique, we can use those dollars in whatever way Servant’s Heart needs.”
That may be funding an assistance program, but it may be a host of other essentials. “This is how we pay our rent,” says Rhodarmer, gesturing to the boutique. “Here’s another example: when we had to replace two commodes, that was a chunk of money. We can use money from boutique to replace those commodes versus monies that we can’t touch that come in specifically for assistance.”
Last year, McIntosh helped bring in $64k over the goal they had set for 2022. The year prior, it was $100k over the goal, and those funds are critical to both the assistance programs and day-to-day operations of Servant’s Heart. Those funds will enable Rhodarmer to invest in a new computer program to manage their growing client database and to make improvements to their office space, adding partitions to provide privacy to clients.
The Community Boutique – and the good work Servant’s Heart does in our community – wouldn’t be possible with its volunteers. Prior to COVID, they welcomed 90 different weekly volunteers; these days it’s down to around 35 volunteers filling about 65 spots weekly – so they’re always looking for more! “We have the best volunteers,” says McIntosh with certainty. “We have people volunteer here like it is their job, like they’re getting paid for it, and we absolutely could not exist without the wonderful volunteers we have.”
Dedicated volunteers, Billie and Allison, community partnerships, high quality products, competitive pricing: it’s all of those things that make Servant’s Heart a special place worthy of earning the title of one of top thrift shops in the greater Charlotte area, and lucky for Mint Hill, it’s right here in our backyard!
Servant’s Heart Community Boutique is located at 9229 Lawyers Road. They’re open Monday – Saturday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Stop by today and check out their Valentine’s day merchandise before someone snags it up!