The Hope Chest is the only thrift store in McDowell County. Residents have to travel up to one (1) hour to find a store to buy furniture, clothes and household goods. Locally, Hands of Hope knows the needs of the communities it serves.
Why has The Hope Chest become so important to Welch and McDowell County?
In 2016, Walmart pulled out its store in McDowell County. Area residents have said the Walmart Corporation had obtained its profitable tax incentives where it promised to opened a store and maintain it for 10 years in this area of West Virginia but had made no promises to keep it open beyond 10 years. So it closed the store a decade later.
The presence of a new powerhouse store like Walmart in 2006 in a secluded county like McDowell County affected the county’s small businesses when it arrived. The locally-owned stores who sold hardware, furniture, clothing, household products, food or shoes began to closed when Walmart came in and siphoned the business from local entrepreneurs. And let’s not forget many stores were also owned by the coal mining companies; they left as well.
If you drive down the small towns of the county, and in Welch, businesses have been boarded up even in the once-bustling downtown areas.
Hands of Hope identified needs and opens The Hope Chest
Since 2002, Hands of Hope did opened several thrift stores under the name of The Hope Chest in various locations in McDowell County, but for sustainability reasons, the only store to survive through the worldwide economic roller coaster ride of the past 20 years has been The Hope Chest located at 145 McDowell Street, Welch, West Virginia.
This only thrift store in McDowell County carries products such as furniture, household items, rugs, clothing, and toys and much more. Yes, there are Dollar Generals and Family General Stores in the area, but they are limited to the products they carry, and the prices are comparably higher since their products have to be shipped a longer distance into an isolated county like McDowell County. Furthermore, since Welch is the county seat of McDowell County, its residents travel frequently into town since most governmental offices, and with what few businesses still exist, are located in this central location.
The Hope Chest has become more than just a large thrift store in Welch, West Virginia. It has become a community-centered facility where people can browse through merchandise and purchase what they need for themselves or their families, but they also find a friendly staff member or volunteer who will pray with them, if requested.
For where two and three gather in my name, there am I with them.- Matthew 18:20
The merchandise at The Hope Chest is new and gently used products that can be bought at reasonable prices. Many of the pieces of furniture and rugs are brand new from Georgia factories. Clothes and shoes: all sizes of men, women, children and baby clothing are all available at this store. The Hope Chest follows the necessary seasons changes in its clothing and inventory all department stores do all year long. Baby and Toddler items like cribs, mattresses and high chairs can be found at the store but are not always in stock due to the popular demand for these items.
Also found in this convenient thrift store are household goods: Toasters, blenders, pots & pants, dishes, silverware, crockpots, irons and much more. Local vendors will also sell homemade brooms in the store. Every day there are new products brought in from the sorting room where donations are processed to be sold at The Hope Chest. The mission teams, along with The Hope Chest staff, daily refill the shelves of this valuable store to the Welch community. See how you and your team can donate to The Hope Chest.
The Hands of Hope Food Boxes are sold at The Hope Chest for $5.00. These boxes are full of non-perishable items that will provide several meals for a family. Volunteers help build these boxes when they serve during mission trips at Hands of Hope. For more information on how to contribute to the Food Boxes, link to making a Physical Donation or Monetary Donations.
While the 145 McDowell Street location continues to serve the communities right now, remember that The Hope Chest is getting a new location at 81 McDowell Street in the center of downtown Welch, WV in 2022.
Need more information about The Hope Chest? Contact Executive Director Crystal Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.