CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The holiday buying season is in full-swing, but the hustle and bustle at one mall in Chesterfield lasts all year.
At Mercy Mall people are shopping for survival.
"We are right there with them so they can have a place like a refuge," Executive Director Stacey Jones said.
Eight years ago, Stacey Jones opened the non-profit to serve those in crisis. Shoppers at Mercy Mall are dealing with homelessness, substance abuse, or domestic violence.
"So we average three and a half people in a family, 200 families a month. So we are talking thousands of people a year," Jones said.
Shoppers visit by appointment for basic necessities like clothing, household items, and goods for the baby.
Telisha lost most everything in a house fire in September. The mother of eight has been struggling ever since. Telisha's sister Monique called Mercy Mall a lifesaver.
"It hurts a lot because that was a devastating situation," Monique said. “It makes me feel really good. Real wonderful. I’m glad to know there are some good people in the world.”
Misi Rose said every week a small army of 60 volunteers sorts through the donated items. Each item destined to help people.
“So, for her, the hope that we’re providing is ‘Honey it’s ok. We’ve got you. Here you go. Don’t worry,'” Rose said.
Shoppers need not worry about layaway or mounting credit card bills.
“Oh, that is the fun part. That is the mercy in Mercy Mall. It's free. When they come shop here," Rose said.
Yes, at Mercy Mall comfort and joy come free of charge.
“We’ve had so many people come through the door and they had no idea what was awaiting them," Rose said. "We consider it serving. We're serving others.”
The whirlwind buying season will wind down next week, but in this store the demand and need never ends.
“It's very hard this time of year," Stacey Jones said. "They might find themselves in difficult situations, but we are one circumstance away from needing help all of us are.”
Shoppers walk in carrying heavy hearts, but leave with spirits lifted.
"That means the world to them at that stage of life. Someone cares because for so long it felt like somebody didn’t," Jones said.
At Mercy Mall they are redefining retail therapy.
"We just try to love everyone the same way and know that it won’t last forever," Rose said. "There is hope."
You can apply for help, donate, or volunteer with Mercy Mall here.
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