BLISS opens new location

Published 10:47 am Thursday, October 12, 2017

Even before the doors opened at 4 p.m., there was a large crowd.

Customers and patrons at BLISS of Lunenburg waited as the store held its grand opening last Tuesday afternoon.

The store has moved from a smaller space at 1808 Main St. to 1816 Main. St. — the former site of Southside Furniture & Floor Coverings Inc.

Customer Jennifer Overby said the crowd was evident of the generous and fair attitude the nonprofit organization has demonstrated to customers and the larger community.

“They care about their community,” Overby said, noting the store didn’t raise prices when the new store opened. “They’re great people.”

BLISS owner Lena Hipps-Clarke — a special education teacher with Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) — founded BLISS after wanting to establish a place where her special education students could receive necessary workforce training in a retail environment.

Spacious rows of clothing, accessories, household items and books met participants who walked through the doors Tuesday. The showroom is approximately 6,300 square feet large, giving patrons space to shop from the previous 5,000-square-foot store.

Employees and volunteers worked at two registers where they chatted with and shared the excitement of customers who gathered in large lines.

The new location has new LED lights, updated electrical wiring, accessible restrooms for those with disabilities, new paint, dressing rooms, a store office and a 3,700-square-foot basement where staff members can sort, price and organize the donations.

Inspirational messages are painted on the walls. In the back of the store, customers could take or donate nonperishable foods.

Clarence Clarke, Lena’s husband, said the employees had worked a long time to renovate the space.

“It doesn’t look the same as it did when we moved in,” Clarence said. “We’ve come a long way.”

Hipps-Clarke said in a statement Thursday that lines had been steady until 8:45 p.m. the opening night.

“It was wonderful,” Hipps-Clarke said about the opening and the support from others in the area. “This community has been very supportive of us in this new venture.”

Shoppers picked up clothing for church and casual wear, books, sheets, candles, furniture, toys knick-knacks and Halloween costumes. Clothing ranged from 99 cents for children’s shoes to approximately $2.50 for jackets for adults.

Meherrin resident Richard Eressy, who’s supported the thrift store, said the store has offered a needed service and created a warm atmosphere.

“It … serves a really important purpose,” Eressy said. “A very family friendly atmosphere. We are all one family.”

Paige Lewis, of Victoria, remarked on the size of the new store, saying it is larger than surrounding Goodwill stores.

Debra Hatcher, of Victoria, searched for accessories and scarves, and said she and other members of the community have anticipated the store’s opening.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” she said.