Lakeshore Christian Midweek Podcast
Our very own Bruce Krapf was a guest on Lakeshore Christian Church’s podcast. Hear him discuss our story, our mission, and all the reasons you should fall in love with ThriftSmart!
Pastor Randy Cordell: Well, welcome to episode 24 of Lake Shore Christian Church’s Midweek Podcast. I’m Pastor Randy Cordell. We’re coming to you live from our studio at our Antioch campus here in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee. Each week on the podcast, we plan to talk about all things Lake Shore. On a regular basis, we interview special guests. Occasionally we’ll even have a guest host. I want to encourage you, if you haven’t done so already, to subscribe to the podcast. You might want to hit that notification bell as well so you get notified when we post a new one. It’s a great way for us to connect mid-week. If you can catch it live, we’re live at noon on Wednesdays. If you don’t catch it live, you can always go back and watch it later. It’s posted to our YouTube channel and also other popular podcast platforms. Well, my guest today is Bruce Krapf with ThriftSmart. Bruce, it’s great to have you here today.
Bruce Krapf [00:01:06] Appreciate the invitation.
About Bruce Krapf
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:01:08] Well, I’d like for you to tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, how long you’ve been in Nashville and and with this first part.
Bruce Krapf [00:01:15] Well, I grew up in Knoxville and East Tennessee, and but our family’s been here in the Nashville area for 28 years. And as far as my wife, Janet. 41 years married, 41 years. And we have two adult children. And a couple of grandkids.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:01:35] Are the grandkids closeby?
Bruce Krapf [00:01:38] They actually live in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:01:40] Oh, okay.
Bruce Krapf [00:01:41] Our son lives in Knoxville. Yeah.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:01:46] How long have you been with ThriftSmart?
Bruce Krapf [00:01:48] Well, I’ve been with Thrift Smart almost sixteen years. The store’s been open 18. Wow. So almost from the beginning. Kind of grew up with ThriftSmart.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:01:59] Yeah. Well, that’s great. How did you first connect with them?
Bruce Krapf [00:02:03] Well, I had worked for Lifeway Christian Stores for 21 years. And so when we parted company, I did did another job, worked at a bowling center for a couple of years. Bowling bowling’s close to my heart because I actually came to Jesus through my junior bowling coach when I was 16. So bowling has a spiritual connotation as well as a recreational connotation for me. But. Yeah. So, but I did miss the nonprofit social entrepreneurship work and I got connected up with ThriftSmart through a job board and and met with the guys. The two guys that started it, Dick Gygi and Tres Scheibe. And it just sounded like a phenomenal idea for a business. And that’s how we could connect it up.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:02:51] Fantastic. Yeah. I was going to ask you, when did ThriftSmart actually get started? You said it’s been, what, 18 years ago?
Bruce Krapf [00:02:57] We’re in our 18th year. Yes. And it started. Uh, Dick and Tres were out raising money for charities that they were really passionate about here in the Nashville area. And Dick tells the story that he finally and nobody would go to lunch with them anymore because he was always asking, begging for money. Right. So they got together and thought of how can we create a business strategy or a business model that would give money back to the charities on a long term basis? Well, after we’re all gone, we hope that this business will continue. Uh, we’ll always provide money for the charities.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:03:34] I love that. I love that entrepreneurship and combined with the ministry, because it is hard when you have to keep asking and keep asking. But if you have a way to generate a continual flow of income and support for for what you’re trying to do and provide a good service at the same time, that’s what I love about it. It’s a great combination of those two things. So tell us a little bit more about ThriftSmart, how it works, how you partner with churches in that process of what ThriftSmart is doing there?
Bruce Krapf [00:04:04] Well, several things. One, we also have an economic engine in the community. We have now 48 employees. And a payroll, well over $1,000,000. So we provide jobs in the community to support the folks that work around the area, live near the store. Yeah. But basically, we do have a lot of partnerships with churches, other non-profits. We go to them, we say, “we don’t want your money, we just want your stuff. We want to connect with you.” And we give through our GiveSmart program. We give a dollar for every $10 of donations that’s directed our way back in gift cards to the store. And then churches can hand that back out in the community to those in need. And it’s about $50,000 a year. So it’s very significant what goes back into the community. And the great part about that is it adds dignity to the people who use the cards because they come in. And, you know, we have dressing rooms. We’re more like a TJ Max. We try to look really good – look good, smell good and be a great place to shop. And so they get to come in and try things on and then pay for it with the gift card. Nobody knows how they got the gift card. They’re just another shopper. So, yeah, we hope it adds dignity. Maybe more so than a clothing closet.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:05:22] I think it does. I know we love it. Lakeshore, we partner with ThriftSmart. We do clothing drives at least a couple of times a year and we’ve partnered in other ways. And we love how it does give dignity to those who just need to go shop and help out. We give out gift cards when people in the community come to us and have some needs that we know ThriftSmart can help meet those needs. So how do you get your merchandise? Tell us a little bit about how that works or where does the merchandise come from?
Bruce Krapf [00:05:51] Well, part of it is from this program because people do bring us things. And usually it’s pretty good quality, too. They want to give their best, not just their worst. And so we have a very good assortment as well because of that. We also have home pickup service. So we’ll go out. We’re out six days a week picking up from people’s homes. And if you have furniture or larger items, we can come out there and pick up. So we do that as well. Drop by the store. We also have donation locations around town, donation boxes around town. Those are on our website at ThriftSmart.com. Can see those locations where you can just go and drop off clothes or shoes or items like that.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:06:32] Yeah, I love that. I know that the the convenience for people is they want to help and they want to donate things. But sometimes that convenience factor is a big part of their decision or whether or not they’re going to donate that or or who they’re going to donate it to. So I appreciate the fact that you’re trying to make that as easy as possible with the pickups and things like that. So in the store, I’ve been to the store, but for our listeners listening today, if they were to walk into the store, what would it look like? What kind of things do you have in the store that people could go there and shop for?
Bruce Krapf [00:07:06] Well, for one thing, the store is 30,000 square feet. So it’s the largest thrift store in Nashville, under one roof. So it’s a big place. So you can imagine all the things that we do have. We have probably 60% of the store is clothing and clothing from all different for all different groups of family members, you know, from babies all the way up to adults, women and men. We have a very large housewares department. So many people will come in and buy things for their household, for their kitchen or for decor and a big furniture section if you need furniture as well. I want to talk about our book department, too, because it’s one of the best book departments anywhere. We’d stack it up to any bookstore in town. It’s all organized by category. It’s a couple thousand square feet. It’s a pretty good size space, and we’re always excited to have people come in and shop for books, and that’s a department that’s still growing.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:08:02] Yeah, I could see how a lot of people love the idea that once they’ve read the books and they’re sitting at their homes, if it’s a good book, good quality, something somebody else could use, that’s a great way to recycle that again and get it back out there for more. People can get the benefit of reading that book, so I’m glad you’ve got that section there too. So you’ve got clothing for people of all ages. You’ve got household goods, some furniture and books. And it is a large store. When I walked in, it was, you know, from the outside, sometimes you can’t tell how large the place is, but when you walk in there, you get a feel for for how large the space is. And you could spend a lot of time just going through, looking for clothes, looking at different things that you have in the store.
Bruce Krapf [00:08:44] We have some people come every day because they want to see what’s new. You’re right. We’re putting out about 2000 new garments a day on the floor. So we have a lot going out and a lot of people want to see what’s new today.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:08:56] Yeah, and that makes sense. If you don’t find what you were looking for that day, don’t give up because there are new things coming in all the time. So I can go back and something might catch your eye that you didn’t even. I’m not a big shopper, but some people, they go in for one thing, but they end up buying four or five other things while they’re in there.
Bruce Krapf [00:09:13] Always. Yeah.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:09:16] That’s the dangerous part of it for me. When I go somewhere, I go for one thing. But I, I, while over there, I see other things that just catch my eye so I don’t go shopping too often because of that. But when I do, I usually walk out with more than I intended to have to start with. Well, I know that a big part of the concept of the store when it was first started was, like you said earlier, there were missions that were near and dear to the heart of the founders that they wanted to be able to provide resources for. So tell us a little bit about the different missions that are supported through the profits there.
Bruce Krapf [00:09:49] So these four charities, I’ll mention them here, they formed what’s called the Thrift Alliance, which we’re really “The Thrift Alliance” doing business as ThriftSmart.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:09:58] Okay.
Bruce Krapf [00:09:59] So technically, the charities own us and they all have a seat at the board of directors. So we meet with them quarterly and we share information and they decide how much they want to take out or put back in the business. So it’s a wonderful relationship that we have. But the four charities are Mercy Community Health Care, which is down in Franklin, and they serve to serve their clients on a sliding scale. And they also try to treat the whole person, the total person, because they also have social workers on staff as well. So they treat the whole person, physical and mental, wonderful clinic. Secondly, New Hope Academy, which is down in Franklin, it’s a racially and economically diverse school on purpose. So we help scholarship kids in New Hope. And then we have two overseas emphasis charities, but they’re both based here in Nashville. One is African Leadership, which develops leaders and pastors in Africa, and then a project down in Belize in Central America called the Belize Project. And they’re focused on primarily the villages and small areas where there’s not many resources. And they really try to help people figure out how to make a living – ways to start small business. I’ll tell a quick story, Aseel. Q who’s a young man there in Belize, he did some training. They had an educational program there, The Belize Project did, and it was computer programing. And he developed from there what was kind of like UberEats for the whole country. This whole country only has like 250,000 people, but in all the districts, he’s got over 300 contract drivers now. So he started an entire business model down there and he’s trying to now pass that along to other young people coming up and help them start their own businesses. So that’s what can happen. You never know the benefits that we give back like that can can start a whole wave.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:12:05] Absolutely. I love the concept, too, because what you’re doing is not only taking care of immediate needs, but is providing a way for people to be self-supporting and not dependent on continual handouts or anything like that. It’s developing that ability and like we said about some other things, it provides dignity for for them too, because now they’re not always having to ask. Now they can support their own, their own lives, their families, and provide jobs for other people at the same time.
Bruce Krapf [00:12:35] Exactly right.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:12:35] It’s just like a chain reaction. I love it. Well, I know those are those missions that are supported through that. The charities that are helped out. There’s great accountability between the store and the charities that you’re working with. And I know I went to the website. Tell us again what the website is.
Bruce Krapf [00:12:56] It’s ThriftSmart.com.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:12:58] Right. And I think you have those charities featured on the website as well.
Bruce Krapf [00:13:02] So there’s links there. You can go see all the charities detailed down to them.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:13:06] Good. Well, I would encourage you to visit their website and also to visit the store in person. If you can tell us where the store is located, what the store hours are there.
Bruce Krapf [00:13:15] Yes, the store, ThriftSmart’s on Nolensville Road. We’re located between Haywood Lane and Hickory Boulevard. It’s 4890 Nolensville Pike, and we are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and noon to six on Sunday.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:13:34] Yeah. So it’s convenient hours, convenient location there. You can stop by and take a look around. If folks are listening today and they want to make some donations, I know you already told us several options, but they could go to the website and see where those donation bins are located, right? And then, of course, I can always bring it directly to the store. And then, of course, a church like this one or other churches that may be partnering with you. We’ll do clothing drives, things like that, where they can participate that way.
Bruce Krapf [00:14:04] Yes. And there’s also an online scheduling tool there on ThriftSmart.com where you can go in and our agents will get back to you about scheduling that pick up if you want to put an email request in.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:14:14] Okay. And when you do the at home pick ups, I’m sure there’s a somewhat limited area that you go to is mostly right around the Nashville area, I’m sure. But if they have large items, of course, I know it would be good to line that up ahead of time. Do that appointment so you can have the right people there in the truck and everything that you’re going to need to have for that pickup.
Bruce Krapf [00:14:34] That’s right. The longer lead time you can give us, the better. We’re usually within 1 to 2 weeks normally.
Partnering with ThriftSmart
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:14:40] Great. Well, listen, I’ll tell you, this is what we love at Lakeshore. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We like to partner with other ministries that are already there and doing a good job. And we’ve been impressed with ThriftSmart, and our partnership with them has been a rewarding one for us. And I want to encourage if we have other pastors listening, other churches listening, give them a call or go by, visit, contact them online. They’ll be happy to talk with you about a partnership with your church or with your organization. If it’s a business that you own or something like that, they will be happy to talk with you about partnering and helping out with that. Now, you were telling me also there’s another option that you can do, a matching gift card donation. Is that right?
Bruce Krapf [00:15:22] For our partner churches and partner organizations, they’re able to buy gift cards at half price for ministry purposes any time. So if a church wanted to have a matching drive, they could do a dollar for dollar match. We have several organizations that use this. Men of Valor is one. They they often come in and buy $50 gift cards for the men coming out of prison. And this is maybe their first stop. They come and get new clothes where they can then go to work. So we’re usually their first stop. So they’re buying gift cards at half price fairly frequently when they have new groups of men come in.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:16:01] Wow. I love that Men of Valor is here in the community, too, not far from our Antioch campus here. And they do a great job with that. One of the first needs they’re going to have is to get some clothes and other personal items like that so that they can go out and work and begin to take care of themselves and get back integrated into society. So I love that partnership with them. Fantastic. Well, guys, I want you to contact them, donate if you can. We’ll do more drives in the future here at Lakeshore. Will announce those as those come up. We’re talking about the possibility of getting a donation bin here at the campus again sometime in the future. We’ll be looking at that option. Well, thank you, Bruce, for coming in today. It’s really good to have this time with you and for our listeners to get to know more about ThriftSmart
Bruce Krapf [00:16:43] Thank you for having me. Really appreciate the opportunity.
Pastor Randy Cordell [00:16:45] Thanks, man. Well, before we go today, I want to update you on several things that we have going on here at the church. There’s a lot of exciting activities going on. It’s a busy time of year for us, as I’m sure it is for our listeners as well. This coming Sunday, November the 20th, we have a welcome lunch scheduled. For those that might be new to Lake Shore. If you’ve not attended one of these before, it will be at both of our campuses. It will be after the 10:00 service at the Smyrna campus, after the 11:00 service here at our Antioch campus. That’s something you need to register for in advance. It’s a free lunch, but when you go to register, click on. You can go to our website Lake Shore Christian dot com, click on the welcome lunch graphic and then it’ll bring up a form where you have the option of which lunch option you want to pick. And if you need childcare, you can indicate that on the form as well. We’ll provide all of that for you. It’s a great time to learn more about the church. Ask any questions you might have. You get to meet some of the staff and we get to know you a little better. So it’s a fun time together. Go ahead and register today or tomorrow. I think that Thursday is the cut off for that registration. So go ahead and get that done as soon as you can. We also have a lot of activities coming up for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Right now, we’re doing an outreach project at both campuses. The Smyrna campus is connected with Smyrna Elementary School there, where the eagle tree stocking drive, you can get those ornaments there and help out those families that the school has identified that might need some help for this Christmas season. And then here at the Antioch campus, we’re partnering with Youth for Christ. We have a tree in the lobby that’s got ornaments on it that you can pick from and help out some high school and middle school students and their families that need a little help during the Christmas season. So go ahead and pick up those ornaments as soon as you can. And and then those families will be blessed by the donations that you make there. If you have a high schooler, we’ve got a Tennessee Christian teen convention coming up in January, January the sixth or the eighth. That is a Gatlinburg, Tennessee. You can register for that in advance. We encourage you to go ahead and make sure you get your child registered if they want to attend because it builds up pretty quickly. You can do that again on our Web site at Lake Shore, Christian dot com or at the kiosk at either campus, we click on that graphic and get that or build out for your high schooler. This Sunday, November the 13th, we’re going to be continuing our message series, The Quest. Over the last several weeks, we’ve looked at three road signs along the way on our quest to become financially healthy in a way that honors God. We talked about the three road signs being that God owns it all. God is a generous God and God can be trusted. And then we talked about the fact that, yes, on this quest there is a dragon we have to come up against is the debt dragon. We have to learn to subdue that dragon by not continuing to add to our debt load, by beginning to pay down on the debts that we already know. And we can get creative with that different ways that we can do that. You can sell things, you can get a side hustle, a lot of different ways. You can really aggressively start paying down debt. Last week we talked about saving and investing and how important that is and how we can bless others as well as blessing our own families with that process. This week, we’re going to be talking about we’re going to be discussing why we don’t call them wise men for nothing. As we approach the Christmas season, you know the story of the wise men that came to visit Jesus after he was born and they brought gifts to Jesus, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Well, that gift giving, I’m sure they had no idea at the time was going to become a traditional thing associated with our celebration of the birth of Jesus and how we give gifts to each other, gifts to family and friends, and sometimes even to total strangers during the Christmas season. And that’s a great tradition. But part of what we’re going to be talking about here is how we can be a generous giver, not just at Christmastime, not just at the Christmas season, but how when we take these steps we’ve been talking about all along. The healthier we become financially, the more we are enabled to be generous like we want to be. I’m convinced as a pastor that most of our church members in their hearts really want to be generous. They want to help other people. They want to make a difference in the world. And when we get our finances in order, when we get healthy financially, well, that makes it much easier for us to take advantage of those opportunities, to be generous in giving to our church and giving to other charities that we want to support, helping out family and friends when they have needs. So I want to encourage you to join us this Sunday as we continue this series. If you don’t already have the book, we have books available at both campuses. The book is called The Quest, written by my good friend Darin Key, who is heading up a great financial ministry called Christian Financial Resources. This Sunday, we’re going to have a representative from CFR that’ll be with us at our services at the Antioch campus, and he’ll be on video for this part of campus as well, telling us more about the work of Christian financial resources and how they partner with churches and others around the country to be able to advance the gospel and be a blessing to other churches. They’ve really been a blessing to us, and I’m anxious for you to hear more about that. David Powers from CFR will be here to answer questions too. If you’re interested in setting up a council CFR. Have any questions about how that works? He’ll be glad to answer those questions for you. We would encourage you to invite family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and join us as we continue to connect. Grow and serve here at Lake Shore Christian Church. Thank you for joining us for the podcast today.