Sustainability is a word every non-profit faces on a daily basis. Developing revenue streams to support sustainability and provide unrestricted funds is an ongoing goal. To meet this objective, SAFE Harbor has been using the winter months to set-up a new thrift store in the Mission Valley. Housed in the Old Creamery Mall in Ronan, along Highway 93, Sister Sallie’s Thrift will have clothes, house wares, household goods, and eventually small furniture.
“This is a model that has been extremely successful for other non-profits and we decided it made sense for us to see how we could make it work in our community,” explained SAFE Harbor Executive Director DeeAnn Richardson. “The location along the Highway 93 corridor where over a half-million outside visitors pass makes it a great spot.”
A “soft opening” on March 27th is slated to introduce the community to this new venture, while the staff and volunteers are able to fine tune operations. On April 17th, a full-scale grand opening will occur with specials, promotions, and some outstanding customer incentives.
“The staff and volunteers have been busy setting up the store, collecting donations and preparing for the opening,” Richardson said. “We have already received so many awesome donations.”
Initially, the store will be open Wednesday through Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Over the years, SAFE Harbor has received a steady level of donations including clothing, housewares, furniture, art, kitchen items, and bedding. The volume of donations that have been given without direct solicitation was another part of the inspiration for setting up a thrift store.
“People are so generous,” Richardson said. “We really have a high level of support from all across the community.”
Store Manager Ardis Shoemaker is the powerhouse for the project, working behind the scenes to help bring it all together. She has been assisting the community for years, serving in education and with violence support services. As store manager, she will oversee all areas of operation, including developing a volunteer team, training staff, setting schedules, supervising and managing the daily operations.
“I’m excited about the store,” Shoemaker said. “It is a big undertaking for SAFE Harbor but I believe it can have such valuable long-term benefits.”
Considering all resources and staffing options, the shop will initially be open four days a week. By having the shop open four days, Shoemaker will have time to provide training on other days, oversee the stocking of merchandise and address other operational issues. Her role will also include training interested shelter residents, as well as other SAFE Harbor clients who are seeking employment through Working Innovations. Participants will gain experience in customer relations, store operations, computer use, and a range of other soft job skills. Sister Sallie’s Thrift Store will offer a work experience in a safe, supportive environment.
“Having a location to assist SAFE Harbor clients with clothing, home goods or employment training makes this part of our program so important for the community,” Shoemaker stated.
SAFE Harbor uses volunteers for its hotline and with other project’s. It has a full training program that covers areas of confidentiality and how to provide victim centered services. These elements will continue to be part of future training for volunteers working at Sister Sallie’s Thrift Store.
“To be most successful, we will need the assistance of volunteers, “Shoemaker added. “They will enable the store to generate increased net revenues. We can’t do it without them.”
Volunteers can call Shoemaker at 261-0826 676-0095 to find out about opportunities to assist at the store. Donations are being taken at the store location in the Old Creamery Mall next to CarQuest and Stageline Pizza in Ronan.