February 24th 2017
First came a great idea, then enthusiastic volunteers, donated household items and clothing ready to sell (two storage units full!), fixtures and enthusiasm, and still more volunteers—everything was in place late last year for one very full and very bustling thrift store, everything except the store itself. But now that has changed, the ink is drying on a lease for a start up property on Fork Landing Road in Maple Shade, and the UrbanPromise Thrift Store is slated to open not very far from the UrbanPromise campus; a true labor of love for those who worked tirelessly to make it a reality. UrbanPromise Thrift is set to open in time for Spring.
The UrbanPromise Thrift Store like Urban Chefs Catering will operate to “generate employment for UrbanPromise youth and have a sustainable business model,” said Matthew Speh, Director of Social Enterprises. This new retail operation will give local youth a chance to hone interpersonal and business skills while providing entry level job experience. Another big benefit: “It has the potential to contribute to the UrbanPromise budget.”
No one is more excited or more optimistic than Ed Londres, a retired engineer, UrbanPromise volunteer and Thrift Shop Advisor—he is the helm of the volunteer army making this dream a reality. “We have racks, counters, display cases and a couple months of merchandise inventory ready to go!" said Londres, coordinating all of the parts so that the store can open smoothly, including moving fixtures donated from the Peter Pan gift shop in Moorestown, by a convoy of volunteers in vans to the new location, overseeing the renovations and sprucing up of the space, and eventually staffing the shop with paid employees and volunteers.
It isn’t Londres’ first time at the rodeo—er, thrift shop. He has been on the ground floor of similar efforts, specifically helping another local ministry open and operate thrift stores and he has seen great results. “We plan to be self-sustaining from day one,” he said, adding that the benefits of operating a thrift store go beyond just being a profitable enterprise. “The space itself provides opportunities to showcase the many ministries of UrbanPromise, provides opportunities for fund raising—even gallery space for art created by UrbanPromise students.”
Before all of that can happen, some dry wall and painting need to be completed, fitting rooms constructed and a few more items are needed. To get to this point he has had a lot of support and he is quick to recognize all of the help given along the way—from Wells Fargo Regional Foundation providing a start-up loan after reviewing the social enterprise business plan, to Moorestown Landscaper Ralph Gregorio who trucked donations to the storage units. “We have been very blessed,” said Londres, and the opening day is on the horizon because so many people getting involved. But the work isn’t over, the to-do list is long. We welcome volunteers to join our effort."
UrbanPromise Thrift Store
2 N. Forklanding Road
Maple Shade, NJ 08052