On a recent weekday afternoon, two men walked into the Thrift 2 Gift store and within moments, each was greeted warmly by proprietor George King, calling them by name as he offered his hand.
The two men weren’t friends or business associates. They were regular customers at the east Cary thrift store, which was founded by George, his wife Nicolette and their friend Debbie Dillon. After four years of operating the store, George still loves this daily interaction with customers.
“You get to see and meet and love people from every part of the world that you would never have been exposed to — ever. Here we get to serve them,” George said. “We get to serve everybody from every nation, every religion, and we serve them all the same. It’s amazing to see their reaction when they are treated well.”
This customer focus fits well with the store’s mission. Thrift 2 Gift is part of Seeds of Mustard Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit which supports children and families in crisis through monetary donations and material gifts. Local nonprofit groups are the primary beneficiaries, although that has not always been the case.
A Mission Out of Tragedy
Seeds of Mustard Ministries began with an event no parent ever wants to face — the death of a child.
In September 2009, George and Nicolette were in the Dominican Republic on a mission trip when they got the news that George’s 16-year-old son David had died in a car accident in Colorado.
They returned to the U.S. immediately, and as they mourned, their thoughts kept returning to the poverty they had seen on their trip. As a memorial to David, the Kings set up a fund to benefit children in the Dominican Republic.
“When David died, the world turned upside-down, and it took us a while to get our feet grounded,” George said. “But we set up a mission fund, because we were so moved by the things we saw in the Dominican Republic.”
Soon after this, Dillon lost her mother unexpectedly, and she asked that her mother’s memorial contributions also be given to the Kings’ mission fund. Apex Baptist Church and Grace Christian School then offered to hold fundraisers. The Kings found themselves managing a charity.
“When we first started, we had this huge plan. We wanted to do everything,” Nicolette said. “We wanted to be a community center. We wanted to have doctors come in, clinics. We wanted to have classes, just everything.”
As the long-term goals of their nonprofit, Seeds of Mustard Ministries, became more focused, the need for a consistent way to raise money became more apparent.
“We realized that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are all these organizations that are already out there but don’t have a funding model,” she continued.
Meeting Needs of the Community
Opening a thrift store seemed the best way to collect funds for the many community groups in need of the Kings’ support. To get the seed money, George asked 10 local business owners for $2,500 each, an amount small enough that most could simply write a check. “I didn’t get a no,” he said.
Thrift ‘n Gift opened in a 2,000-square-foot space on Maynard Road in March 2011. But within two years, the three partners were ready to expand their cramped store.
In August 2013, the store moved to 900 E. Chatham St., a 20,000-square-foot building that had once housed Nowell’s Contemporary Furniture. George, the only full-time employee, six part-timers and a host of volunteers keep the place running.
“A slew of volunteers comes from the court system,” said Nicolette. “Many of the volunteers are doing community service hours, and it’s interesting what you’ll run into and the chance you have to really minister to young teens or older teens or young adults.”
Eventually the Kings would like to spread their idea of customer-focused, community-based thrift stores to other markets. Changing the name of the store to Thrift 2 Gift was part of that long-term plan.
Nicolette posed this question: “If each market had its own store that was giving back to that community, what would that community look like?”
If the folks at Thrift 2 Gift have anything to do with it, those communities would be better places to live. But even if the Triangle is the only place Seeds of Mustard Ministries affects, the Kings can be confident that they have made a difference in people’s lives with their work.
“The most rewarding part has to be the daily ministry that happens when you just pray with somebody in the corner, because you felt like you were supposed to ask a certain question that opened a floodgate,” said Nicolette. “There’s nothing like that.”
Thrift 2 Gift
900 E. Chatham St., Cary
(919) 651-0482, seedsofmustard.org
Gifts to the Community
From September 2013 to January 2015, the Kings gave away nearly $45,000 worth of cash and in-kind donations.
Recipients were nonprofits without a revenue stream which seek to solve a problem rather than provide immediate relief.
- The Church in the Woods
- Hand of Hope
- Haven House
- Hope Connection
- Meet the Needs
- Veterans Helping Veterans
- Women’s Prison Ministry
- Live from Lorraine’s
- We Love! May 2015
- Mentor Me
- Thrift 2 Gift
- Restaurant Profile: Banana Leaf
- Fresh, Local, Convenient
- All in the Details
- A World of Welcome
- M is for MMMM
- The 3-Hour Makeover
- All in the Details
- Enter Our Mother’s Day Contest!
- Exclusive Dish: The Mandolin’s Wilted Spinach
- Rock Your World
- Glory, Glory