Degage Ministries opens retail store, artisan market

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s a new retail store downtown that’s now open to the public and it’s creating more than just a unique shopping experience.

Degage Ministries opened Thrift on Div, a retail store and artisan market, next door to the shelter at 140 Division Ave South.

The staff believes the new addition isn’t your average business as it breaks existing and potential barriers for the Heartside Community.

“This is the only thrift store there is down here. When the Goodwill moved, it left a real void down here because the people we serve shop there all the time. And when they moved out further, it wasn’t as easy to get there,” Degage Ministries Marketing Manager Bob Krater said.

The store is filled with new and used clothing as well as accessories for men and women. Customers can find everything they need to stay warm or impress a potential employer during a job interview.

“It’s a beautiful boutique style shopping experience so those who want to find affordable products can do so in a beautiful space,” Degage Ministries Executive Director Thelma Ensink said.

Items are less than $10 but there are options for those who can’t afford their purchase.

“They can pay with their vouchers that they can earn at Degage for doing chores,” Victoria Spence said.

Since opening in November, the store has been available by appointments and only served individuals who are homeless and experiencing poverty.

Spence has been working with the store since then as part of Degage’s Workforce Development Program. She credits the job with helping her and others transition out of homelessness.

“I’ll be getting my own apartment on Thursday. This store was my employment while I was waiting to get my I.D. I couldn’t find employment anywhere else,” she said.

There are four people currently employed at the store, though the ministry is looking to add more employees in the future and become a place of new beginnings for those who work and shop.

The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Additional hours are anticipated in the spring. 

Degage Ministries opens retail store, artisan market