‘Hillbilly heaven:’ Edinburgh thrift store expands to Franklin

The large red sign advertising “Gail’s Thrift Store” can’t be missed along South Morton Street entering Franklin.

Anita Gail Warren opened Gail’s Thrift Store in downtown Edinburgh two years ago because she saw it as a way to answer a calling from God to help people, she said. Her son noticed a space for rent in Edinburgh, and she jumped at the chance.

“We grew up having yard sales with my mom,” Warren said. “This is the type of work I’ve always done, yard sales and cleaning. That’s the two places that the Lord’s out me, so I’m just trying to give back and work for him.”

Two years later, she’s now expanded to Franklin in a building on the south end of the city at 699 S. Morton St. Similar to finding the Edinburgh space, she and her son were driving along U.S. 31 when they saw that building was for rent.

When she met with the landlord, he also told her she could set up tables and have a “yard sale” out in the parking lot of the building too.

“I’ve wanted to expand and do more. When he said that, I guess I got confirmation to go for it,” Warren said.

Gail’s Thrift Store has a little bit of everything, including clothes, shoes, small makeup items, hair styling tools, toys, books, home decor, vitamins, wipes, and also pregnancy tests. Warren also keeps a cart full of bread anyone can take for free, and keeps a pantry of various food items from boxes of donuts and cereal to Gatorade and coffee. All the food items she sells for $1 each as a donation to keep the little food pantry going.

Mostly everything in the store costs between $2 and $3, with some smaller items listed for $1. Brand new or nicer clothes or shoes are priced a little higher between $5 and $10.

Warren keeps the prices low to help people who need these essential items. She said many customers have come in saying they were looking for an item at the grocery store, for example, and found it for much cheaper at her shop.

A portion of the funds from sales go toward helping her church, One Body Ministry in Indianapolis. The money helps with things like mission work and food pantries.

Nearly all the items in the store are donated from friends, family, Warren’s church and just people dropping items off. Warren also has bought some items to sell from Amazon and Target. She is also seeking donations for clothes suited for younger people, from ages 10 to 25 or so, she said.

The store in Franklin opened on March 1, and it was a busy opening day, Warren said. The line wrapped around the store, and she had to count cash by hand because she didn’t have a register yet.

She now has a cash register, but only accepts cash payments for now. Warren hopes to get a Square device to use on her phone to take card payments at some point.

Warren is mainly focused on running the Franklin store now, while volunteers are running the Edinburgh store. Everyone working at Gail’s is a volunteer. She works up to 12 hours a day running the store many days, but she loves it, she said. It’s also a bit of a drive for her, since she lives in Camby.

“It’s just a labor of love for the Lord,” Warren said.

She loves meeting new people and seeing her store regulars. She likes getting to know her customers and talking with them.

Before this, Warren was a stay-at-home mom, and now all her children are adults, who also have kids of their own. She worked briefly at LA Fitness before she left to open the thrift store.

She hopes to continue the store to help people, and she is excited about setting up a yard sale-type display in the parking lot when it gets warmer.

“It’s not a professional store, it never will be,” Warren said. “I just call it like a hillbilly heaven. I don’t know. I enjoy it.”