Fashion Shop at River Ridge Mall Stays Mission-Minded

It started with prayer. Then, it grew into a desire to serve others in need.

Now, a dream built upon prayer and a passion to show the love of Christ has become a leader in cause-driven retail. 

Philanthropy, a clothing and home décor store, opened in the River Ridge mall July 14, becoming the franchise’s first retail location in Virginia. Lynchburg is now the home of Philanthropy’s third store, with a flagship store in Franklin, Tennessee, and another location in Houston, Texas. 

While the store serves up an impressive variety of unique fashion finds and antique décor from all over the world, the main mission of the store is not to give customers just another plain shopping experience; it’s to benefit communities by giving back. 

At each of the three retail stores, a minimum of 10 percent of retail sales are donated to charity. In addition, 100 percent of proceeds from online sales are donated to charity.

Currently, Philanthropy is partnering with Parkview Community Mission Downtown and donating 10 percent of store funds to helping feed the Lynchburg community. In the coming months, they hope to partner with a number of other local organizations to give back to the local community.

The Lynchburg store is also organizing a “Not Forgotten” bag program, where customers can purchase a bag filled with necessities that will be donated to needy and homeless individuals in Lynchburg. As of Thursday afternoon, Philanthropy has sold over 80 bags. 

To date, Philanthropy has donated $1.25 million to global charities since their founding in 2007, according to a press release from the River Ridge Mall. 

“For us, Philanthropy is not about just giving money, but instead, recognizing and helping the root cause of the need for charity,” Christina Martin, founder of Philanthropy, said in a press release. 

Martin’s fashionable eye and expertise in architecture can be clearly seen in the layout of each retail store, and Lynchburg’s location is no exception, General Manager of Philanthropy Lynchburg Mehgan Pinigis said. 

Each of Philanthropy’s three retail locations was built from the ground up by Martin, her husband and her brother. Leading up to the opening of Philanthropy Lynchburg, Pinigis said the trio worked “every waking second” to make sure the store was ready to go by July. Featuring an array of eccentric, rustic design, the Lynchburg store features a variety of women’s fashion items and antique home décor items, from paperweights to dressers.

While the store’s design is sure to be eye-catching, perhaps the most notable aspect is located right in the heart of the store: the prayer chapel.

Each of Philanthropy’s retail stores has a prayer chapel where customers can write down prayer requests and praises and tack them to the inside walls of the chapel. Although the Lynchburg store has only been open to the public for about two months, the walls of the chapel are filled with hand-written prayers and praises. 

“The concept behind it is to have a place that is surrounded by prayer,” Pinigis said. “We at the Lynchburg location always tell people that (prayer) is the heartbeat of our store.”

Prayer, Pinigis said, is central to Philanthropy’s cause-driven ministry. As Martin and her family were building the store, they laid prayer tags underneath the foundation, so that the “whole entire store is built on prayer,” Pinigis said.

Thus far, the customer response to Philanthropy has been “overwhelming,” Katie Farris, manager of retail marketing for River Ridge, said. Philanthropy’s unique mission and retail selection helped to “fill a void” in the market, and customers have continually expressed how “blessed” they felt during their shopping experience in the store, Farris added. 

While opening in the midst of a global pandemic presents its own unique set of challenges, Pinigis expressed pride in her team of sales associates for working together to make the store a welcome and safe experience for all.

“We’ve definitely had our setbacks with everything in this pandemic, from shipping to materials to health-related things, it’s just there’s always something,” Pinigis said. “But we’ve all kind of come together and done an amazing job, I think, at getting the store where it needed to be for opening.”

Madison Hirneisen is a News Reporter. Follow her on Twitter at @MadiHirneisen.

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