Madelyn McMullen, 19, of Long Lake tried on a jacket while her mother, Marcia, tried a pair of shoes at Resale 101, run by Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners in Plymouth. Below, Larry Kopp of Plymouth browsed through some books.
Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune
Nonprofit secondhand store is big news in Plymouth
- Article by: JILL JENSEN
- Star Tribune
- February 7, 2012 - 3:56 PM
While Resale 101 once resold a donated designer purse worth thousands for a mere $10, the secondhand household and clothing goods store has netted almost $90,000 in the four months since its opening last September.
When reselling donated items, "You really can't make a mistake [with pricing]," said Nancy Holden, Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners development co-director. The nonprofit still made money on the resale.
In fact, such deals are part of the store's appeal to the public. And handbags are a hot commodity.
"Someone's going to find a treasure like that and they'll come back," Holden said.
IOCP opened the 3,300-square-foot store on Sept. 21 at its new headquarters in Plymouth to raise money for its programs while serving a "pocket of need" in the surrounding, largely affluent community.
The shop's inventory is made up of donations from community residents, and it is staffed by more than 200 trained volunteers, Holden said.
All proceeds from the shop go to fund IOCP programs, which help struggling families in the surrounding communities with anything from transportation to paying their rent or mortgage.
"Our ultimate goal is long-term stability" for those families, said IOCP spokeswoman Lenore Franzen.
New HQ, new projects
IOCP relocated to its new headquarters in Plymouth last August. It bought the 40,500-square-foot building and renovated it following a $5.5 million fundraising campaign.
The expansion has allowed IOCP to expand its programs, including opening the resale shop, which is about half the size of IOCP's entire building at its old site in Wayzata. The new building also houses IOCP's food shelf and offices where clients can seek assistance from the agency.
Resale 101 -- which takes its name from its location on County Road 101 N. -- has a varied inventory. You might find a new pair of $110 New Balance men's tennis shoes priced at $45. Or you could browse through a large library of used books, most of them priced at $1 to $2. And there's a wide range of vintage clothing and household accessories.
Items are priced based on condition and quality, Holden said. While some items are aimed at lower-income buyers, others can appeal to customers seeking a bargain or who simply like the idea of reusing clothing and other goods -- like Holden, who estimated that half of her closet has come from a resale shop.
Buying used household items or clothing has become more socially acceptable, she said, and the economic downturn seems to have driven more customers to the store as well.
And with the movement to "go green," shopping secondhand has become more popular, even chic in some circles.
Customers come from "across the board," Holden said, from IOCP clients to community members who donate items and end up browsing.
A 'Dignified approach'
As volunteer Stephanie Troup sorted donated items, she told the high school girls working at her elbow her story.
"Do you realize that you have helped me personally?" she asked them.
Troup, who has sought help from IOCP, volunteered immediately when she heard about the resale shop. She said she wanted to give back for all the help she's received with everything from rent to car repairs after she suffered "a couple" of heart attacks.
"I feel very indebted to them," Troup said. "I feel they have ... saved my life in a way."
The resale shop serves its IOCP clients with a "dignified approach," Holden said.
One way IOCP case managers help clients meet living expenses is by giving them gift cards in increments of $25, depending on their needs. "The client can go and shop like anyone else, and we don't need to know that they're clients," Holden said.
The resale shop helps fund these gifts; Holden said about 15 percent of the proceeds from the shop are allocated to give to clients in the form of gift cards.
Resale 101 exemplifies the collaborative effort IOCP has developed with the community, Holden said.
Once the space was available, IOCP received startup funding of $50,000 for the store from Trinity Lutheran Church in Long Lake.
Pastor Carrie Scheller said the congregation has been active in the resale store "from the ground up."
"It's a way for the whole congregation to be involved," she said.
While many members volunteer in the store, teenagers from Trinity Lutheran also are holding a clothing drive specifically aimed at young people because they have noticed clothing donations were sparse in that area of the store.
"That's the way it should work," Holden said.
Jill Jensen is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.
© 2013 Star Tribune