Gimme Shelter gets a new home

Published 6:25 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Gimme Shelter, a nonprofit thrift store whose proceeds benefit Isle of Wight County’s animal shelter and humane society, will reopen as a tenant in the former Laura & Lucy’s antiques store on Main Street.

Real estate agents Jay and Amber Hassell of Smithfield purchased the historic storefront last year and began the process of renovating and rebranding it as “Hamtown Mercantile,” a community marketplace that will lease retail space to a variety of tenants.

Robin Knauth, who ran Gimme Shelter for 12 years out of a converted gas station at the corner of Main and Grace streets, confirmed to The Smithfield Times on March 16 that the thrift store would be reopening – possibly as soon as mid-May – as “Gimme Shelter Attic” in the new location.

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According to Gimme Shelter’s Facebook page, the nonprofit will operate out of a 100-square-foot booth.

“I’m very excited about it … I think Smithfield really, really needs something like that,” Knauth said. “It’s perfect for us. We can still take our donations … it won’t be like it was, of course, but it will work.”

Knauth had begun preparing to go out of business last year after her landlord, Thomas Askew, informed her he planned to retire and sell the converted gas station she’d been leasing. Askew had initially agreed to sell the property to former Smithfield Foods Chairman Joseph W. Luter III, who’d intended to make it part of his proposed “Grange at 10Main” mixed-use development at the western edge of the town’s historic district.

Smithfield businessman Mark Hall then negotiated with Luter and Askew to buy the building himself instead, in hopes of saving Main Street’s last remaining intact early 1900s canopy gas station from demolition. The new deal pushed Gimme Shelter’s eviction date from March 11, 2021 to Jan. 12.

“He gave us two days after that to finish up,” Knauth said. “We had so much to get out of there … It’s kind of sad to see it sitting down there, but it was good while it lasted. IT served our purpose very well.”

The Hassells did not respond to a request for comments by press deadline.