Valley News – Jim Kenyon: Nonprofit Pay attention adds spendy boutique to Lebanon thrift retail store

A thousand bucks for a coat? (Granted, it is 100% cashmere.) What about $250 for a designer winter season jacket with a faux fur collar? And $100 for a stylish blazer that appears to be like it could belong in Nancy Pelosi’s perform wardrobe?

Welcome to Hear Boutique, “where purchasers can glance for that greater end clothes order.”

The boutique, which opened very last Tuesday, usually takes up just a person area inside Listen’s 13,000-square-foot thrift shop on Wonder Mile in Lebanon. But judging from early Fb returns, not everybody approves of Listen’s enterprise into upscale pricing, even on a small scale.

“Listen is getting rid of what it means to be a thrift keep,” started out a publish on the nonprofit’s Facebook webpage that immediately drew a trio of thumbs-ups.

In saying the boutique’s opening, Hear reminded its Fb followers that “our principal mission is to offer a space wherever reasonably priced clothes is accessible for all people in the Higher Valley.

“However, we have heard from some individuals that they’d like to see a place exactly where some of our bigger high quality, extra pricey outfits can be found collectively.”

I never have a issue with that.

Listen, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this yr, is an Higher Valley gem. It allows people who are struggling with lease payments and heating fuel charges. It operates a food stuff pantry that distributes 20,000 containers of food items a 12 months and also operates community dinners that serve 80 to 100 foods six nights a 7 days. It foots the bill for summer time camps for more than 100 young children whose families can not afford to pay for to mail them.

Hear pumps $1.25 million a yr into its social company courses. The thrift retailers in Lebanon, White River Junction and Canaan present about 25% of the earnings utilised to operate individuals systems.

So when Listen Govt Director Kyle Fisher listened to from workers and people in the local community that a boutique could help the bottom line, he gave the inexperienced light-weight.

“It’s an experiment for us,” he instructed me. “One of the fantastic points about the Upper Valley area is the quality of donations we get. It’s an insult to our donors not to get as substantially value as we can for products, so we’re in a improved economic placement to support men and women in will need.”

On Thursday, I stopped by the new boutique, which occupies primary window room at the front of the shop. Some products experienced their original tags, which indicated to me — the astute shopper that I am — that they’d hardly ever been worn.

Listen’s luxury clothes rates seemed much more than good. A Vineyard Vines men’s h2o-repellent jacket outlined for $239 on the company’s website could be experienced for $50. Trousers that — according to the revenue tag — an Higher Valley retail retailer experienced marked for $60 was available in the boutique for $25.

Some persons argue Listen shouldn’t put donated garments at charges that not every person can afford. But in an odd way, the new boutique is leveling the playing field.

Listen’s thrift suppliers have come to be primary deal looking territory for “re-sellers,” Fisher explained. They arrive when the doorways open in the early morning to speedily get outfits new to the profits floor. After taking advantage of Listen’s lower costs, they promote the items for major income on eBay or in consignment outlets.

“Other men and women hardly ever get to see these merchandise,” Fisher explained.

If the boutique’s bumped-up price ranges are cutting into their gain margin, re-sellers may imagine two times before snatching whatever name-brand dresses they can get hand their fingers on, Fisher stated.

Listen was hearing grievances about its price ranges lengthy prior to the boutique opened. Throughout just one of our conversations right before she retired as Listen’s government director in 2016, Merilynn Bourne resolved the matter head-on.

“People say to me all the time, ‘You’re charging to considerably,’ ” Bourne explained. “Well, fantastic luck obtaining a location in the Upper Valley in which you can get superior discounts.”

Bourne, who put in 15 years at Listen’s helm, wasn’t a single to mince words and phrases. “If we don’t make cash, we can’t survive,” she informed me.

Soon after examining out the boutique, I walked all around other parts of the retailer. Getting bargains was not a difficulty. In Kid’s Corner, an infant’s snowsuit was marketing for $4. In the rows of garments for grownups, I came across Levi’s denims for $5 and winter season jackets for $15.

Listen provides clothes and furnishings vouchers for individuals and families who are owning trouble creating ends satisfy.

And as opposed to numerous nonprofits, Pay attention does not count on govt funding, which gives it a lot more “flexibility to give rapid help where by the need is,” Fisher stated.

In other words and phrases, Listen doesn’t have to be concerned about complying with federal government red tape. When another person arrives in trying to get warm dresses for an infant or a bed for an condominium they’ve just moved into, they are not greeted with a mound of paperwork.

“We never have to request individuals a large amount of thoughts or make judgments,” Fisher reported.

I motivate anyone who inquiries whether Pay attention is satisfying its mission to appear at the organization’s federal tax filings. They are available online at GuideStar, which specializes in reporting on U.S. nonprofits.

For its most current submitting in 2020, Listen attained GuideStar’s prime grade for transparency and accountability — a difference obtained by less than 5% of registered nonprofits.

Now back again to the $1,000 cashmere coat.

When I returned to the boutique on Friday, I uncovered a shopper with the coat firmly in her grasp.

After working in commercial real estate in a different portion of the place, the woman said she experienced moved to the Woodstock region. She did not want to give me her title, mentioning something about preferring her mother not uncover out about the extravagant invest in she was before long to make.

The lady had arrive to Listen in search of eating home chairs. Then she noticed the Italian-built coat in the window. “It’s a Loro Piana,” she educated me. “It’s a $10,000 coat.”

Holy Neiman Marcus. Judging from my Google search, I don’t doubt it.

The girl negotiated the rate down to $800, which was continue to a bonanza for Pay attention.

Reported Fisher, “That’s two much more propane tanks we can fill.”

Jim Kenyon can be attained at [email protected].

Katheleen Knopf

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