By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Kikstart Inc., the non-profit that provides healthy meals across Jefferson County, on Saturday opened its first brick and mortar store in the Birmingham area offering deep discounts on everything from appliances to clothing.
The grand opening was held at the West Town Plaza in Bessemer and attended by Douglas Jackson, Kikstart Inc.’s Executive Director; Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson; Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway and Bessemer city officials.
While Kikstart has been widely recognized for its feeding and education programs, Jackson said he wanted to find additional ways to assist residents.
“We need to support our communities from within,” he said. “[Instead] of going across town . . . shop in your own neighborhoods. Come get some quality stuff. We’ve have negotiations with Macy’s, Walmart, Target and we’re buying things from them that we sell in our community at 50, 60, 70 percent off. . .these are name-brand items.”
The proceeds from sale on those items which include air-conditioners, stoves, refrigerators, clothing and other goods are used to feed families in Alabama, Jackson said.
“It’s a blessing to come back into this community and do things for our families and friends. I feel great about what Kikstart does each and every day — education, upliftment in the community, friendship. Everything we do for our people from [toddlers] to 70-80-90 years old.”
As for opening in Bessemer, Jackson said, “Bessemer is a growing community, . . . but it’s going to be bigger, and we want to be a part of the growth here.”
Tyson said the store is another way for residents to get what they need.
“Look at where Kikstart came [from] with the food program within the school system and after school care. They’ve grown so large where they were able to feed our senior citizens and also feed families and have food trucks where they can go into different areas.
“Now, they’ve seen the need with disparities in shoes, proper clothing for our children and now they have opened a store . . . He’s a Wal-Mart to the community,” Tyson said.
The commissioner pointed out merchandise for homeowners.
“We want to keep up our property, we want to cut our grass, and maintenance our homes . . . Then [Kikstart] opened a store to give [first-time homebuyers] the supplies that we need to help keep up our homes,” she said.
Pettway said Jackson has a heart for the community.
“He brings nutritious meals to kids and adults. This store will provide great resources . . . Dr. Jackson is providing great meals, we are going through a pandemic, right now a lot of people are out of work. He’s here making sure that we give a nutritious meal to kids or adults.”
Pointing to a stack of boxes outside the store on Saturday, Pettway added, “Summertime is coming up and they have affordable air-conditioners . . .we don’t want to see anybody go without.”
Location: 518 West Town Plaza Bessemer, AL 35020. Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9 A.M. to 7 P.M.