MILLS, Wyo. (BP) – Merry Marcus is among countless Southern Baptists nationwide who carefully watch their money to be sure they are able to participate in their church’s mission projects.
Now she’s found a way her church could multiply her missions giving.
The 50-year member of Mountain View Baptist Church has watched for sales to buy school supplies, toys, games and other items to stuff into Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes, back-to-school backpacks and other church projects.
“I try to spend at least $10 for the kids every time I go to the grocery store, Family Dollar or Walmart, so it adds up,” Marcus told Baptist Press. “I love doing it. I wish I could see their faces when they open their box and see a little truck or a doll or stuffed animal.
“Being on a fixed income, I do it a little bit at a time,” Marcus continued. “If I don’t help the kids, who’s going to? I mean, others in our church help, but if I don’t, that’s one less person helping, one less kid being helped.”
This summer, though, Marcus heard from a friend about dollardays.com, an online resource that multiplies the number of items purchased by individuals, churches, associations and state conventions. The company also was an exhibitor at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
She checked it out: jump ropes for 95 cents, balls for 46 cents, race cars for 33 cents.
“These all are things I pay a dollar or more for,” Marcus said. “I really think this is something the church would be interested in. Getting the same things for less money? That’s cool. Being able to buy three or four times as much for the same money? That’s way cool.”
Dollardays.com is a for-profit business started 21 years ago by a retiring buyer for Macy’s department stores. His initial target: mom-and-pop stores and dollar stores being squeezed by Walmart.
“Hence the name: Dollar Days,” the company’s president, Mike Stringer, told Baptist Press. The business, initially using contacts the owner had acquired at Macys, was making a profit, selling just about everything available at various “dollar” stores, all of which likewise made a profit, Stringer said.
Then came Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Southern Baptists and others involved in the outpouring of assistance found dollardays.com as a way to maximize their ministry, whether it was in sending food, clothing and cleaning supplies to devastated residents, resettling New Orleans refugees or cleaning flooded homes and churches.
“We quickly saw that churches and charities were underserved markets,” Stringer said. “We wanted to help them help the community at large. Our focus moving forward is serving churches, schools and nonprofits that need products to do good in their local community.”
The company can offer such low prices because they sell everything only in case lots. So, 95-cent jump ropes come in a case of 72, and 33-cent race cars come 150 to the case.
“We buy from the manufacturer or direct importer,” Stringer said. “We cut out the middle-man. Our goal is to pass the savings on to those we work with.”
Clackamas Valley Baptist Church in Clackamas, Ore., has been buying 17-inch backpacks and school supplies from dollardays.com for at least seven years, for the church’s Back-to-School Blast, a ministry to about 150 youngsters each year.
“They’ve been so helpful,” Pam Ellis told Baptist Press. “Joe [Belcher] helps me spend our money wisely.”
Belcher, a Southern Baptist, is the firm’s national sales rep and the Southern Baptist point person. It’s Belcher who arranged for Southern Baptists to receive free shipping for orders in excess of $399. The company’s standard free shipping rate is for orders in excess of $599.
“The backpack quality is great,” Ellis said. “The zippers work fine. We’ve never had any problem with the backpacks. We also buy four to six other items that go in the backpacks from them. Joe makes it all so easy, and he makes sure I stay within my budget.”
Back-to-school is the busiest time of year for dollardays.com, the national sales rep told Baptist Press. Disaster relief supplies are needed all year long, and churches put on several events where dollardays.com can help.
Some churches buy baby bottles, to be filled with coins for a local pregnancy resource center; some buy staple-less composition books for prison inmates, Angel Tree gifts for the children of inmates; hygiene items, socks, underwear and more for kits for the homeless, crossword puzzle books for the homebound, and many more, plus cleaning supplies for the church as well as disaster relief ministry.
Tens of thousands of Southern Baptist churches buy from dollardays.com, Belcher told Baptist Press.
“As a Southern Baptist myself, I want to maximize the ministry that draws us together as a missional people,” he said. “We help you maximize your service to the Lord.”
This article was written by Karen L. Willoughby, national correspondent for Baptist Press.