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Jericho Road Ministries lays plans for new thrift store on County Line Road

Jericho Road Ministries will close its Hudson thrift store in July and a new one on County Line Road should open in six to eight months.
Jericho Road Ministries will close its Hudson thrift store in July and a new one on County Line Road should open in six to eight months.
Published May 18, 2016

SPRING HILL — With the income from its thrift stores generating most of the funds that support its five shelters and food bank, Jericho Road Ministries' founder is hoping the store the organization is about to build on County Line Road will provide operating revenue for Jericho's newest men's shelter, Joshua House.

"We finalized the renovation of our 30-bed men's shelter in July and took our clients in there in September of 2015," said the Rev. Bruce Gimbel, who also serves as the ministry's chaplain.

The ministry, which was incorporated as a nonprofit by Gimbel in 1998, is dedicated to helping those in need. In 2015, that meant providing shelter to 634 men, women and children. Many more were provided with food.

The goal, says the ministry's mission statement, is "to lovingly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the economically, emotionally and spiritually impoverished by responding to their basic physical and emotional needs and by promoting Christian growth as characterized by a productive and changed life."

Hopes had been that the ministry's thrift store in Hudson would provide the needed funds for Joshua House, Gimbel said. But unlike the other ministry stores, where sales have been increasing as the economy has improved, the store on State Road 52, which will close July 31, has only been breaking even.

"The size of the store did not generate the sales we thought it would," Gimbel said. "The new one will be a little bit smaller. The mortgage payment will be less than the current rent, and the sales should be as well or better with it close to Spring Hill and other residential communities."

The engineer's drawings for the 8,000-square-foot store, at 15000 County Line Road, have been submitted to the county for approval. Gimbel projects it will be up and running in six to eight months.

The projected price of construction and development of the new store is more than $700,000.

"We have some grant opportunities that we'll be submitting in the coming weeks, and that basically is one avenue for reducing the price enough that our mortgage will be as low as it can be," Gimbel said.

Besides providing about 75 percent of the revenue to cover the ministry's operational costs, the stores have another benefit, the chaplain said.

"We have client staff in all of the thrift stores," he said. "So the stores' budgeted staff includes clients each year."

Some of the ministry's clients have been out of the workforce for more than five years, Gimbel said.

"Some of them have great financial hurdles to get over. So what we try to do is target the clients with the greatest financial needs as they're moving forward toward self-sufficiency and provide those clients first opportunity for work in our stores."

As long as the clients remain in the ministry's program, they're allowed to work in the stores, he said.

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About 60 volunteers from the community also help out in the thrift stores and at the food bank. A new arm of the ministry is providing opportunities for those doing community service. That includes high school and college students who can volunteer and receive credit at their schools.

"Also under that heading would be men or women that have been adjudicated by the courts to do community service in Hernando County," Gimbel said. "We are an approved site for them to do their community service hours."

Monetary help from donors is always appreciated, Gimbel said.

"If they're not current supporters of the ministry, they could send in checks designated for the new store. If they're current donors, they too, if they're able, could designate some funds for this new construction."

Used merchandise sold at the stores includes clothing, housewares, furniture — even used vehicles and boats. Donations are accepted at all stores, and pickups are available for large items.

Thrift stores are at 16479 Wiscon Road near Brooksville, 31170 Cortez Blvd. in Ridge Manor West and 5260 Commercial Way in Spring Hill. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

All of the stores run daily sales. Information and coupons are available online.

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