We admire nonprofits that have a revenue generator beyond grants, donations, public giving campaigns, and other typical fundraising methods. Often these small businesses teach skills, give work experience, and/or provide a community service.
Two other Oklahoma examples are Enid's Hope Outreach Ministries' Thrift Shop and Bartlesville's Tuesday House, a popular resale business assisting the Mutual Girls Club.
The thrift shop below gives redeemable elephant tokens for the thrift shop to those who attend the health center's classes. Enid's Hope Outreach also gives store credit to young parents completing mentoring sessions.
By: David Page The Journal Record September 2, 2015
A customer makes a purchase at the U Wear It Well Thrift store at Community Health Centers’ Mary Mahoney Campus at 12716 NE 36th St. in Spencer. (Photo by Brent Fuchs)
SPENCER – When Community Health Centers started planning to open a thrift store, the primary goal was to create a new revenue source.
“Initially we were just trying to raise some more funding,” said Rosalyn G. Johnson, CEO of the nonprofit provider of family primary and preventive medical and dental health services.
But as planning for the store advanced, the mission expanded.
“We realized we could use the store to encourage people to come in for healthy living classes,” Johnson said.
The U Wear It Well Thrift opened in mid-August at the nonprofit organization’s Mary Mahoney Campus at 12716 NE 36th St. in Spencer.
Like most thrift stores, U Wear It Well accepts cash and debit cards for purchases. But the new thrift store at the Mary Mahoney Campus also accepts redeemable elephant tokens.
Elephant tokens are distributed to people enrolled in one or more of the nonprofit agency’s healthy living classes. Class topics include diabetes and chronic disease management, parenting, behavioral modification and child nutrition.
“Each token is worth $1 in the store,” Johnson said. “We wanted to encourage people to come to the classes.”
Each token has a picture of an elephant, similar to currency having a photograph of a former president.
The elephant was chosen for the tokens to symbolize family and leadership, Johnson said.
Elephants form deep family bonds and live in family groups. Leadership is not equal to power, but illustrates the respect for individuals for their problem-solving ability, self-awareness and empathy, she said.
“We want to encourage healthy living and reward Oklahomans for taking control of their lives,” Johnson said. “It is our hope that the token incentive will improve health and wellness outcomes in this part of our state.”
The thrift store’s merchandise includes men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, household items and small appliances.
One section of the store features items families need for babies including strollers and cribs, she said.
The store’s merchandise is supplied from donations, many from supporters and the general public.
“Stein Mart was our first retail supporter,” she said. “They donated clothing and household items.”
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Johnson said there are plans to expand the hours to include Saturdays.
“So far the interest in the store has been awesome,” she said.
Staff members at the Mary Mahoney Campus have been taking turns working in the store, but Community Health Centers is recruiting volunteers.
“We are seeking volunteers and donations,” she said.