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story.lead_photo.caption The facade of Crosshouse Thrift is seen. Tucked away in the southeast corner of Oaklawn Plaza, it can be hard to find. But it is there, with clothes, furniture and other items to help needy families. Photo by Junius Stone / Texarkana Gazette.

Tucked away in the far southeast corner of Oaklawn Plaza is a store that has been around for only a few months. The signs in front of Oaklawn Plaza and in front of the store read Crosshouse Thrift. It can be a bit hard to spot, but some have managed to find it.

"This is a local, family-run store, but it is also a ministry," owner Paula Forbes said. "My background is in accounting and bookkeeping and had a great private practice in that. But I felt God was indicating this was the direction for me to take, so I stepped out on faith and I'm going to let him reveal what is next."

Inside Crosshouse Thrift are furniture, clothes and various knickknacks. It is a comfortable-looking place that offers basics and staples for people and families in need, who may have just come through a crisis and need a few things to get them back on their feet.

"We even provide free clothing and housewares to those that qualify," Forbes said. "In addition, we help raise money to purchase Bibles for inmates as well as provide an in-store housing and job board for those without computers and phones. From time to time, we get things that cannot be used in the store, so we usually turn those over to organizations helping the homeless. We welcome donations, and donations of clothing and household items will go to others in need. We are also able to come pick up furniture donations."

Paula Forbes, center, is flanked by son Jonathan (who helps run the store), left, and younger children Jacob Forbes and Jaiden Black, far right.
Photo by Junius Stone/Texarkana Gazette.

But according to Forbes, her place is not just about material needs. Described as a thrift store with a purpose, it is also an act of faith, a place where the gospel can be found.

"This is a calling of the Lord," she said. "I see this as a place where people can come to get spiritual as well as material needs met. In fact, there has been one occasion where we did help lead a young woman to acceptance of Christ, and it was a blessing to witness. But that is what this place is for, to help people in need. That day, that is what this person needed. Christ doesn't stand on ceremony, he'll come where he's asked to come. That day, it was here."

The first month the place was in operation, customers had no problem finding Crosshouse Thrift. However, since then, Forbes has come into conflict with the city of Texarkana concerning signage and how to direct customers to the shop.

"We are tucked back in a little back corner in Oaklawn Plaza, so it is important to be able to show customers where we are," she said. "We were OK the first month, but since then, city officials told us to take down some of the signs we had up showing where we are. And because of that, customers being able to find us has severely dropped off. I've been trying to work the situation through official channels; the last stop I've come to is Shirley Jaster, city manager. But I need help here. I can only keep appealing to them and leaving it up to the Lord."

Despite the current struggles and setbacks, Forbes is not deterred in her faith or the mission of Crosshouse Thrift.

"I believe this store is guidance from the Lord," she said. "And I'm trusting him to show me the way. But at this moment, it is hard."

Crosshouse Thrift is located at 2729 New Boston Road, units 42 and 44. Call 903-793-0057 or visit them at Crosshouse Thrift on Facebook.

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