By Mike Steely
Vickie Johnson is on a mission. Literally.
After many years as a caregiver, Mrs. Johnson received a call from her son. “He said God wants to open a thrift store and wants you to run it,” she said.
At first the store, God’s Place Thrift Store, was in Vestal and then moved to 5925 Chapman Highway. The mission is to clothe and feed the homeless in the area and to support her son Tim’s ministry at God’s Place Church. With several buses, the ministry picks up homeless people, some 200 of them, and takes them to the old Sevier Heights Baptist Church where they receive free clothing, shoes, food and a bit of the gospel message.
The ministry also has several places for the homeless to stay, which she calls “whole-way houses” not half-way houses.
“We’ve been here three years,” Mrs. Johnson said. “My son was homeless, in a comma for 38 days, a drug addict and running from the law.” When people come into the store with a similar situation Vickie knows how to relate.
“Anyone can shop here or they can just come in for prayer. We have a prayer box where people can leave a prayer request and we pray over it several times each day,” she says.
“Most of our clothing is only one dollar. Every Friday we have “fill a bag” for $2. That’s our most popular day,” she says. “Some Fridays I arrive at the store and find cars here waiting for me to open. I even have dealers buy from me.” She said the store also carries furniture.
Mrs. Johnson said she has benefited greatly by joining the South Knoxville Business Alliance and business has picked up. Her husband, Steve, joins her in the operation of the store. The store not only offers a wide variety of clothing and shoes but donated items like electronics, etc. She also carries a line of jewelry from North Carolina and has gospel music playing in the store.
“We greatly appreciate all donations,” she said.
God’s Place Thrift Store is open 10 a.m. until 5:30 Monday through Saturday. You can call the store at 604-8077 or go by at 5925 Chapman Highway.