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

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

Welcome to Pay attention Boutique, “where purchasers can appear for that bigger stop garments order.”

The boutique, which opened last Tuesday, usually takes up just a single space inside of Listen’s 13,000-square-foot thrift shop on Wonder Mile in Lebanon. But judging from early Facebook returns, not everyone approves of Listen’s venture into upscale pricing, even on a little scale.

“Listen is dropping what it indicates to be a thrift keep,” started out out a article on the nonprofit’s Facebook webpage that right away drew a trio of thumbs-ups.

In asserting the boutique’s opening, Hear reminded its Fb followers that “our principal mission is to present a house exactly where very affordable outfits is obtainable for everybody in the Higher Valley.

“However, we have read from some people that they’d like to see a room where some of our greater excellent, far more highly-priced outfits can be viewed with each other.”

I really don’t have a dilemma with that.

Listen, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this 12 months, is an Upper Valley gem. It will help individuals who are having difficulties with lease payments and heating gas charges. It operates a meals pantry that distributes 20,000 boxes of food items a yr and also runs community dinners that serve 80 to 100 meals 6 evenings a week. It foots the invoice for summer months camps for extra than 100 young children whose families cannot afford to pay for to deliver them.

Hear pumps $1.25 million a year into its social assistance applications. The thrift retailers in Lebanon, White River Junction and Canaan deliver about 25% of the profits utilised to operate those people systems.

So when Hear Govt Director Kyle Fisher listened to from employees and people in the local community that a boutique could assist the bottom line, he gave the environmentally friendly gentle.

“It’s an experiment for us,” he instructed me. “One of the terrific matters about the Higher Valley space is the good quality of donations we get. It is an insult to our donors not to get as a great deal price as we can for items, so we’re in a superior fiscal position to aid individuals in want.”

On Thursday, I stopped by the new boutique, which occupies prime window area at the front of the shop. Some products had their initial tags, which indicated to me — the astute shopper that I am — that they’d by no means been worn.

Listen’s luxurious apparel selling prices seemed additional than honest. A Winery Vines men’s water-repellent jacket detailed for $239 on the company’s website could be had for $50. Trousers that — according to the product sales tag — an Higher Valley retail retail store had marked for $60 was out there in the boutique for $25.

Some men and women argue Listen should not place donated apparel at selling prices that not anyone can pay for. But in an odd way, the new boutique is leveling the playing area.

Listen’s thrift outlets have turn out to be key bargain looking territory for “re-sellers,” Fisher explained. They arrive when the doors open up in the early morning to rapidly get apparel new to the income floor. Following taking advantage of Listen’s small charges, they sell the items for large gains on eBay or in consignment outlets.

“Other folks hardly ever get to see these items,” Fisher stated.

If the boutique’s bumped-up price ranges are chopping into their gain margin, re-sellers may well believe two times before snatching no matter what name-model outfits they can get hand their fingers on, Fisher explained.

Pay attention was listening to grievances about its charges lengthy just before the boutique opened. All through a person of our conversations prior to she retired as Listen’s govt director in 2016, Merilynn Bourne addressed the issue head-on.

“People say to me all the time, ‘You’re charging to significantly,’ ” Bourne stated. “Well, good luck locating a location in the Higher Valley exactly where you can get far better discounts.”

Bourne, who expended 15 years at Listen’s helm, was not one to mince text. “If we really don’t make revenue, we cannot endure,” she instructed me.

After examining out the boutique, I walked close to other areas of the retail store. Getting bargains was not a problem. In Kid’s Corner, an infant’s snowsuit was promoting for $4. In the rows of garments for grown ups, I arrived throughout Levi’s denims for $5 and winter jackets for $15.

Listen gives clothing and home furnishings vouchers for people and people who are getting issues making finishes meet up with.

And compared with numerous nonprofits, Pay attention does not count on authorities funding, which offers it far more “flexibility to offer speedy enable the place the need is,” Fisher stated.

In other words, Hear does not have to be concerned about complying with governing administration purple tape. When a person arrives in looking for warm dresses for an toddler or a mattress for an condominium they’ve just moved into, they are not greeted with a mound of paperwork.

“We never have to ask persons a great deal of queries or make judgments,” Fisher reported.

I stimulate any person who concerns no matter if Pay attention is fulfilling its mission to look at the organization’s federal tax filings. They’re obtainable on the web at GuideStar, which specializes in reporting on U.S. nonprofits.

For its most current submitting in 2020, Pay attention acquired GuideStar’s best grade for transparency and accountability — a difference accomplished by considerably less than 5% of registered nonprofits.

Now back to the $1,000 cashmere coat.

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

Following performing in professional serious estate in an additional portion of the state, the lady said she had moved to the Woodstock spot. She didn’t want to give me her title, mentioning anything about preferring her mother not obtain out about the extravagant obtain she was soon to make.

The girl had come to Listen in look for of dining home chairs. Then she spotted the Italian-produced 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 look for, I don’t doubt it.

The female negotiated the value down to $800, which was however a bonanza for Hear.

Stated Fisher, “That’s two extra propane tanks we can fill.”

Jim Kenyon can be arrived at at [email protected].