Thrift Store Reopens

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – The New Life Thrift Store received a new life of its own Saturday, when the store reopened its doors after being closed for renovations since April 23.

The store now features a greatly expanded area for merchandise, thanks to the demolition of the wall that formerly divided the space. The extra space has allowed for the inclusion of clothing and shoes to the lineup of merchandise, which already included books, furniture, electronics and knick-knacks.

Bertha Bell, the proprietor of the store and founder of New Life Women’s Center, which helps abused women, gave much of the credit for the renovations to her husband of 13 years, Edward Bell.

“Without him I really would not have been able to make it,” she noted.

Bell said she cannot believe the renovations are finally complete. They were something she had talked about for two years.

“You just have to speak it,” she said.

One reason the renovations have taken so long to become a reality is Bell rarely has time to concentrate on anything but the mission of the women’s center. Last week, two women graduated from her program and began their new lives — with the assistance of New Life. Now, she said, two women who were on the waiting list will begin their journey to independence and normalcy.

Besides battered women, the center help area homeless and elderly, some of whom volunteer at the store. One volunteer, Arnie Mixon, is 91 years old and has been with New Life for seven years.

“She has just been there for me,” said Mrs. Bell.

Bell said the store is able to operate with a relatively low overhead because all of the staff are volunteers. Despite this fact, the center often has trouble making ends meet because the women who are in the program receive everything from rent to prescriptions to meals from New Life.

Still, Bell retains the vision she had when she started the ministry 20 years ago.

“I used to be really upset with the politics of this town. You have to kind of learn to let go of things,” she said, adding, “I take great pleasure in my work.”

New Life Women’s Center and New Life Thrift Store are located at 650 W. Fifth St. in LaPlace. Call 985-359-2398 for more information.