Abigail French, owner and operator of God’s Helping Hands Thrift Shop LLC, is celebrating her fifth year in business at 130 Main Street West in Ripley.
After working at several different retail positions and seeing the ins-and-outs of running a business, French decided she wanted to do something to help those in need. She began using money out of her own pocket to help patrons who needed it, but she was limited to what she was able to do on her own.
In May of 2014 she said a message was put on her heart from God.
“I could hear him tell me, ‘I’ll supply everything for you if you just go do it,’” French said. “I second thought it and said no, I don’t want to do this.”
At the time French was married and had two incomes in her household. She said she was scared to take the leap and attempt to start a business on her own, leaving just the one paycheck to survive on.
The message kept weighing on her mind and then in July of 2014 she attended a church camp. French told herself that, depending on the theme of the camp and the answers she received from attending, that would be her deciding factor on whether or not to go into business for herself.
“The theme of church camp that year was ‘Who soever will’ and right there was my answer,” French said.
She decided to give her two weeks notice where she was working at the time and in August of 2014 she found her current location. From then on, God’s Helping Hands has continued to grow.
With donations and consignments from people locally and others from as far away as Michigan, French is able to help out the Jackson County community.
All proceeds received from the sale of donated items go into a “Help Fund.” The help fund is then used to help people who are in need of food or clothing.
On many occasions French said people have been dropped off on a bus, or came in and were in need of food. She then takes money from the help fund and sends them to local eateries and provides them with the necessities to continue on their way.
“We had one guy who came in almost routinely every three months,” French said. “He would come in and just say he needed a change of clothes, that is all he wanted. I would tell him to go look and see what we had, shoes, socks, undergarments, a coat, pants, whatever he needed, if we had it in his size, then we took care of it.”
French recalled a grandparent who came in the shop with two small grandsons she had recently taken custody of until their father was ready to take them.
“They were looking for school clothes for the boys,” French said. “They bought $300 in clothing and we covered half of that. When we have the funds to help, we help, but sometimes funds are very low.”
In the beginning, French said that she did not want to focus on doing consignments, but it is the consignments that now cover the cost of her business and living expenses. With 302 consigners, she is able to keep the shop running, but donations are in great need to continue to be able to thrive and help others who need it the most.
Out of town traffic brings a lot of patrons to the shop, but French hopes to grow her business through local traffic. She invites everyone to stop by and see what she has to offer, from clothing for all sizes, to household items, furniture, jewelry, and more.
French offers daily specials and has a 50 percent off special every Monday. Any items not included are marked accordingly.
God’s Helping Hands is not affiliated with any church as may be perceived by the title; however, French said it is God that put the idea on her heart and hands that bring in donations and consignments.
“He gave us hands to help,” French said. “So why not help those in need.”
Store hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday’s 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and closed on Sundays.
French accepts donations of all kinds and shoes and clothing of all sizes. Monetary donations toward the Help Fund are also accepted.
Anyone interested in donating or selling items on consignment can reach French at 304-372-8263 or visit the shop Facebook page at God’s Helping Hands Thrift Shop, LLC.