By: Malarie Allen |

In a long-anticipated move, the Shepherd’s Cove Thrift Shoppe recently opened the doors to its new store and a bright future.

After breaking ground in September 2017, dozens of friends and customers attended the grand opening of the Thrift Shoppe’s new location in Albertville on March 1. The move is a culmination of continued growth that began out of a heart to serve a grieving family.

Meeting needs

After a patient died under Shepherd’s Cove care, the family was left with a whole house of their loved one’s belongings.

The sheer weight of having to comb through and decide how to best use or get rid of all the items was overwhelming. At the same time, Shepherd’s Cove leaders were looking for alternative revenue streams to help shore up costs for rising indigent care rates and expected Medicare cuts.

The family worked with Shepherd’s Cove officials and generously donated all their loved one’s items they did not want to open the Thrift Shoppe in 2011. All proceeds went toward Shepherd’s Cove Hospice care.

This agreement relieved stress from the family, and they knew each item would benefit someone else in need of end-of-life care. The Thrift Shoppe has continued to grow year after year since.

A better way to thrift

In addition to leasing the new, 30,000-square-foot space, May and employees have implemented several small changes to improve the shopping experience.

“We trying to make it inviting and home-like,” May said. “We’re trying to increase quality of items on the floor and display them in a way that’s easy for people to sort through and find what they need. We want the shopping experience to be more enjoyable, easier, and just better for our customers.”

Furniture and much of the home décor is arranged as it might be in a room to help customers better visualize the pieces in their home. Pants, tops, and all clothing are better organized by size than previously.

“It’s frustrating if you have to look through 50 pairs of jeans before you find one your size,” May said. “We want it where you don’t have to dig through everything to find what you’re looking for. It just saves the customer time.”

Shepherd’s Cove Thrift Shoppe leadership team includes, from left, Sales Team Lead Loretta McClendon, Director Samantha May, Transportation Team Lead Holly Autwell, and Processing Team Lead Renee Wilson.

May and her team even pay attention to the smallest details, like lighting and smell. The new, spacious store allows more room for shoppers and inventory. Improved lighting and large storefront windows brighten the space.

With scents from many different individuals and homes coming together in one place, May believes it’s important to keep the air smelling fresh. In addition to ensuring the store stays clean, 22 air fresheners placed strategically throughout the building are regularly refilled every 15 days. Additionally, employees spray a sanitizing fresh spray on all clothing and linens before the items are placed on the sales floor to ward off germs and displeasing scents.

Special events

In a separate portion of the building is a “seasonal shop,” which will feature items unique to each season or holiday. While it currently includes racks of summer clothing, when the Christmas season starts, it will be the home of the Shepherd’s Cove Holiday Shoppe. Previously, the Holiday Shoppe was a popular “pop-up” style Christmas store held at a different location between October and December each year.

Behind the seasonal shop is a community space with tables and chairs. Here the Thrift Shoppe hosts monthly workshops where participants can learn fun new skills, like painting and decorating cookies. Upcoming events include classes on chalk art, repurposing furniture, making handcrafted greeting cards, and more. The Cove Crafters, a craft club that makes special homemade items for Shepherd’s Cove patients, also meets at the space from 1-4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month.

Additionally, the second annual Nifty Thrifty Night Out event is slated for June 20 in the Thrift Shoppe’s community space. NTNO is a fun evening with unique and wacky thrift store attire, goods, and more. Information about all Thrift Shoppe events is available at or on the store’s Facebook page.

Community focus

As a community-based, nonprofit organization, Shepherd’s Cove embraces the idea and feeling of community, even at the Thrift Shoppe. Chalkboard columns throughout the center of the store stand as pillars of thanks and inspiration for shoppers and donors alike. With phrases like “We love our donors!” and “Thank you for supporting the mission of Shepherd’s cove,” the columns remind shoppers daily how their support impacts the lives of others.

Although Shepherd’s Cove and the Thrift Shoppe are not faith-based organizations, they certainly take their cues from the Bible, as evidenced by the number of Bible verses featured on the columns and painted on the walls of the store.

The goal

Thrift Shoppe and Shepherd’s Cove leaders dream of one day opening a store with the same quality shopping experience in each of the nine counties served by Shepherd’s Cove. While it is based in Marshall County, Shepherd’s Cove also provides hospice care, palliative care, and grief support services in Madison, Jackson, DeKalb, Etowah, St. Clair, Blount, Cullman, and Morgan counties.

Proceeds from sales at the Thrift Shoppe go to the Shepherd’s Cove Foundation. The Foundation helps provide care for those in the community facing the realities of terminal illness and grief through Shepherd’s Cove hospice care, palliative care, and grief support programs.