Thursday, December 6, 2012
The merchandise housed and sold within LaFayette business The Real Deal’s four walls is almost as diverse as owner Jim Powell’s background and current occupations.
He began a career as a professional wrestler at 14, winning his first televised match at age 15. Continuing on that path for the next 15 years, Powell wrestled in places like Detroit, Mich., and Dallas, Texas, traveling as far as Trinidad and the West Indies in South America as he worked 300 days out of the year. Despite the fitness level required, he ended up picking up some bad habits and an addiction to prescription drugs.
“Wrestling was my dream and I got to live it,” said Powell, who was known by the moniker “The Dirty White Boy” in his wrestling days. “It was a very wild and fast time in life, and I just got caught up in it. One day I just left and handed in my [championship belt]. I had gotten tired of the grind, but I also became a born-again Christian. I just didn’t think wrestling was what I should do for the rest of my life.”
He faced his last opponent in the ring and then went home to Walker County, where he began working with his father in merchandising. Over the next few years Powell tried his hand in the restaurant business and continued gaining experience in merchandising, finally setting up his current shop at 814 N. Main St.
“I’m really crazy about hometown stores. I get worn out but then somebody will come into the store and encourage us more than we do them and I think we still have a reason to be here,” he said. “In the middle of all that [running a business], I knew God had called me to preach.”
Enter Harbor Lights Baptist Church. More than six years ago the 15-member congregation came to Powell with a need for a pastor, though they couldn’t afford to pay one full time and had a mound of debt that needed to be addressed. Powell accepted the job, keeping his business as a means to support his family.
“Today, the debt’s gone and we are running over 175 people for worship,” he said. “We’ve got a church that’s made up of about 50-60 percent new Christians; it’s really cool. We are just trying to be the church I found in Acts that goes out and doesn’t just sit and wait for people to come in.”
Powell said he and the church’s members have walked every street in LaFayette, praying for each residence and establishment in the town. With its focus on outreach, Powell said he hopes someday the church can do more to aid those with addictions or who are homeless.
“People have a lot of needs right now,” he said. “I like to invest in people’s lives. I was blessed to be a wrestler. I learned a lot from it. Though the years of addiction are not something I’m proud of I’ve learned a lot from it. God’s still real; what I want people to see is that hasn’t changed.”
The Real Deal mainly sells an assortment of silk flowers and collegiate collectible items. Powell said the merchandise can often be bought at his store for half the price or less than at other establishments.
“We are doing a lot of floral and a lot of gifts and closeouts,” he said. “We try to sell ourselves as much as our products. We try to help people find what they need.”
The Real Deal can be reached at 706-639-3310. For more information on the shop visit www.facebook.com/pages/The-Real-Deal/150176648339879?ref=ts&fref=ts. For information on Harbor Lights Baptist visit www.harborlightsbaptist.com.