Banana Box Bargains Holds Grand Opening

February 19, 2019 | community service | Eve Rusk

What happens when ideas, church members and an unstoppable force get together? At the Payette (Idaho) Church, it’s Banana Box Bargains.

The Payette Church has had a community services ministry for many years. Some members were looking for a different direction, something with more community contact. Enter Charleen Williams, wife of Howard Williams, the Payette Church pastor.

In Alaska, the Williamses began a “thrift store” ministry in their district. It generated lots of community contact and provided low-cost food, clothing and other items to community members. It also generated income for church ministry. When they arrived at the Payette Church, the couple found members who were looking for a change, a new way to impact their community.

With the help of many volunteers, Banana Box Bargains opened in early December 2018. Charleen is a talented interior decorator, and the little store is bright and inviting. Food is neatly displayed, and clothing in very good condition hangs attractively on the racks. Monkeys appear amidst the décor. A bowl filled with bananas sits on the checkout counter. Small household items are included as well. It’s almost a one-stop shopping destination for those who love a bargain. Each nook and cranny showcases a must-have item.

The sign outside the little shop was created by a young member of the congregation, Brianna Daugharthy. When she was asked to create the sign, she had not done anything on that large a scale. Not one to seek the limelight, Daugharthy prefers to be in the background.

The grand opening celebration included gifts of recognition for volunteers, yummy treats and a prayer of dedication. Howard Williams shared with the group how Banana Box Bargains can provide good-quality food, even organic and specialty items, at low prices. He has done research on food product dating. For the most part, when a food has reached its expiration/best by/use by date, it doesn’t mean that the food is no longer safe to eat. He provided reference material on the subject to anyone who wanted it. That same material is available to shoppers who have concerns about food safety.

Students from the Treasure Valley Adventist School participated in the celebration. They had also been part of the volunteers.

David Prest Jr., Idaho Conference president, had the honor of cutting the ribbon during the store's grand opening. As shoppers entered the store, they expressed their delight at its appearance. Excited exclamations could be heard as they made their way through the store. Many left the store with more than one bag of items.

A reporter from the Argus Observer newspaper based in nearby Ontario, Ore., was at the grand opening. The newspaper ran a feature on the store in its Dec. 12, 2018, edition. The store advertises in the newspaper as well. Currently, all staff are volunteers. Charleen is optimistic that they will eventually be able to hire employees, as they did in the Alaska store.