Owning a thrift store was never part of Daniel Shoats' life plan, but the Red Bank Thrift Store owner recently expanded his business to include a second location in Soddy-Daisy.
"We have a phenomenal customer base," said Shoats. "Red Bank has been very nice to us."
Nearly four years ago, he was in charge of quality control for a hardwood casket business in South America when he received a call from a doctor in Indiana, who informed him that his mother's life was nearing its end. Shoats brought her to his home in Red Bank, where she received services from Avalon Hospice.
"She had a whole bunch of stuff," he said of his mother, whom he described as an "organized pack rat" with a two-bedroom home filled to the brim. "She said to give it to Goodwill, and I ended up starting a thrift store."
After seeing what Avalon did for his mother, he decided to donate 25 percent of proceeds from the store to Avalon, which also receives 100 percent of donations collected in a jar on the store's counter.
"Our first priority is to help hospice patients, and our second priority is to help the community with low prices," said Shoats.
He said Avalon uses the money to fulfill patients' wishes, such as throwing a birthday party for an 80-year-old man who had never had one before, as the patient had been single and homeless most of his life. A woman helped through Shoats' giving requested a prom dress for her granddaughter, which his donations purchased, as her wish before dying was to see the girl go to prom.
Shoats also uses the funds to provide necessities for Avalon patients, such as getting power turned back on at their house or buying a truckload of wood for a family that was relying on a wood-burning stove for heat. He donates items such as bed sets or appliances from the store to the hospice's patients as well.
"More than anything it shows that someone does care for them," said Don Sapp, a chaplain with Avalon Hospice. "We get a lot of patients who come on board that don't have any family or any money, and Daniel has made it possible to do a lot of stuff for the families we serve that we otherwise would not be able to do."
Shoats said he plans to carry over his charitable work with hospice patients at the new store.
"If there's a need we'll try to find it," said Shoats, who decided to open the Soddy-Daisy location after speaking with Soddy-Daisy resident Vickie Newberry.
Newberry said she was upset about the closing of the Good Shepherd thrift store, which had been operating in Soddy-Daisy for 19 years in several locations. She contacted Shoats about bringing a thrift store to Soddy-Daisy, and when he expressed an interest she tracked down the owner of Good Shepherd's last building.
"I pulled up his house on my GPS and went straight to his door," said Newberry, who said she wasn't going to let the building owner's unlisted phone number stop her from facilitating the establishment of another thrift store in Soddy-Daisy. "I just did the legwork [of connecting the two]. I thought it would be good for the community, and I hope [Shoats] does well."
Shoats said he needed more room and felt it was a good time to expand, so he opened a new store in the former Good Shepherd location in late September.
Both his stores carry a wide selection of items, from clothing and jewelry to furniture and home decor, in a range of prices. Unlike his Red Bank store, where the selection includes donations as well as purchases from customers and auctions, Shoats' Soddy-Daisy location sells only donated items. He said the new store will have a donation box outside set up soon.
Shoats also operates a clothes-recycling program at the stores, meaning he accepts clothing with holes and sweat stains in order to reuse the fabric. Cardboard and scrap metal can be recycled through the shops as well, he said.