Thrift Store Committee

Committee News

Your Missouri Council of the Blind New Image Thrift Store Report :: September 2015

By Jeff La Montia, General Manager

Hello to you from all of us here at Your Missouri Council of the Blind New Image Thrift Store! We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful summer with your families and those close to you! Can you believe that in December of this year it will be four years since we have opened our doors?? How time flies when you are having fun! You will be happy to know that we continue to experience growth and success as we have come along. This is a testament to the hard work that our Team, including all of our Volunteers, has put into Your Thrift Store! Collectively, everyone has done an exceptional job in propelling your thrift store into what it is today; a store you can all be proud to have at the Missouri Council of the Blind and a true gem in the Springfield community!

At this time, I would like to provide you with a brief overall snapshot of how we are currently doing in fiscal year 2014-2015. With each year that has passed, we have continued to show improvement across that board which has led up to what has been the best year since we opened! Of note, since I am writing this to you in late July, all values for this fiscal year are projected as we have a little over one month left to go before we finish. This year, our income is projected to close out in the $755,000 ballpark, which is pretty reasonable considering that we have not been open on Sundays since July of 2014. We have continued to experience a rise in the average sale per customer over the past year, which has been instrumental. In fact, a long time goal of an average sale per customer of $10 was finally reached in June of 2015 when we finished out at $10.02 per customer for the month! It should also be noted that for 8 consecutive months (November 2014-June 2015) we have witnessed an average sale per customer of over $9 during each month with that value rising each month. This is a great achievement and one that goes back to the hard work our Production and Sales Floor Teams have put into your thrift store. In order for your store to continue growing, it will be crucial that we satisfy the pallet and the needs of each individual that walks through the door. This will ensure that more dollars are spent by each customer on a daily basis. Now, let’s take a look at expenses. This year, we project to close out at roughly $723,500 in expenses of which is a dramatic decrease over what we saw during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. This is tremendous and has been accomplished by a combination of processes/factors. First off, we have spent much time cross-training all members of our Team in various departments and areas of your store. Second, our Volunteer program has grown immensely, allowing our Team to function much more efficiently and effectively. Third, we have greatly relied upon technology and industry knowledge to further enhance and streamline your operation. Fourth, we have cut costs across the board in areas from supplies, truck/vehicle fuel (you can thank the fall of oil prices for that along with the use of GPS technology for route planning), payroll, and more. With all of that being said, your thrift store stands to profit over $31,000 this year, which will make it the most successful year we have witnessed. In reality, it can take a few years before a new business realizes a profit and at the end of our third full year in operation, we have done it! Our work is not over as we still have a long way to go, but this next year (fiscal 2015-2016) is slated to be a breakout year as income continues to experience an overall uptick and expenses have been reined in such that we can blossom! So, I hope you all are as excited as we are!

As we continue to experience growth, we also must continue to expand our donor program utilizing our onsite Call Center. We know that with growth comes the added pressure to bring in the goods to meet customer demand. Donations all across the board have successfully risen during the past year to meet the added demand of items ranging from clothing, furniture, appliances, books, electronics, decorations, cookware, lighting, and more. In fact, overall donation levels at your store have increased roughly 18% from the current fiscal year compared to the last fiscal year! This increase can be attributed to more individuals and organizations getting to know where we are located and who we are coupled with how well our donor coordinators are doing in our onsite Call Center!

As we expand our footprint across the Missouri Ozarks, it has become more imperative that we work with other charitable organizations as they may also have items that we need. The other side of working with charitable organizations in our community is that in some form or another, we are all supporting a cause or are benefiting those in need! In many ways, through donations and partnerships, we have developed a tighter bond with many giving organizations and people throughout the greater Springfield community!

Speaking of the community, your thrift store is making quite a name for itself as a place that provides mentoring, encouragement, job training and skills, and hope for individuals who need the help! We have been able to make a huge impact with individuals who have been in and out of trouble with law enforcement officials, those who suffer with alcohol and drug abuse, folks who have lost everything in a natural or accidental disaster, those who are homeless, individuals who live with learning and/or other mental disabilities, and folks who fall under a variety of other disability categories. Over the past year, we have been recognized by the Missouri Career Center, the Springfield Community Alternative Sentencing Program (CASP), and Alternative Opportunities for our efforts in helping folks generate the skills to join or rejoin the workforce. While we are most certainly a fund generator for our beloved organization and cause, it is also important to remember that we must also do everything we can to be good stewards to the community that has graciously gone out of its’ way to help us! We would like to report to you a very recent shining example of an individual who has come through these doors as a Volunteer and is now joining the workforce. We will not mention his name, but this individual displays one of the biggest hearts that I have ever witnessed in my life. I can tell you that this gentleman does have a mental disability and has lived through more in his life than most can imagine. For the last eight months, this person, through his own volition, has volunteered his time here a total of 15 hours each week (three days per week). He is extremely diligent, caring, good with donors/customers, and has a drive that most do not. Regardless of the circumstance, he brings no excuses to the table and is always willing to perform his best. Never once was he late, not even by a minute, for his shift and he always did everything he could for his Team. His concern was that he would not be hired by any employer because of his disability, but on Friday, August 7, he will be joining Academy Sports of Springfield as a paid employee! Its days like this that you will always look back upon and know that you truly helped someone that certainly deserved it!

We really enjoy keeping you all updated on the status of your store, outreach, and our employees. It continues to be a pleasure knowing that our Team here in Springfield is making such a positive impact on the Missouri Council of the Blind as well as the community in which we live! I would like to express a Big Thank You to our entire Team here at the store and to those of you who have been there supporting us along the way! To Mike Keller, our President Denny Huff, and the members of the Thrift Committee, we would like to personally recognize each of you for your service and commitment to our beloved thrift store. You all have been extremely instrumental in helping us get to where we are today and for that, I would like to say Thank You!

Here Comes the Wind up, and the Pitch, From Your Thrift Store! :: March 2014

By Jeff La Montia, General Manager

Hello to you from all of us here at Your Missouri Council of the Blind New Image Thrift Store! We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Holiday Season with your families and those close to you!

You know, it’s been quite the journey so far here at the thrift store. We have experienced continued growth and success ever since we opened the doors on December 8th of 2011! We have also had to learn to adapt to the ever changing environment around us by utilizing continuity and creativity. Collectively, our staff has done an exceptional job in propelling your thrift store into what it is today; a store you can all be proud to have at the Missouri Council of the Blind!

At this time, I would like to provide you all with a snapshot of our January numbers. To go along with this, I will compare our current figures and projections with what we have witnessed each January since we opened in 2011. This will help give you all an idea of our continued store growth. To note, we have not completed the month of January, however, this snapshot will provide you all with a good glimpse of our achievements during this time. Our total store income from January 1st through the close of business on January 30th was $57,407 with a customer count of 7,182. Our projection for January (including all income) will put us at around $61,000 with a total customer count of 7,400! To put that into perspective, during January of 2013, our total monthly income was $43,471.47 with a total of 5000 customers shopping with us! In January of 2012, our total store income finished at a meager $28,752.13 with a mere 3,412 customers who shopped with us! As you can see from these simple figures displayed above, we have continued to experience an upward trend over the past three years!

I would like to express a Thank You to our entire staff and to those of you who have been there with us since we have opened! To William Hawkins, Denny Huff, Mike Keller, Chris Gray, Virginia Drapkin, Jerry Annunzio, Eldon Cox, and our President, Patti Schonlau, we would like to personally recognize each of you for your service and commitment to our beloved thrift store. You all have been extremely instrumental in building this entire operation from the ground up! This has been quite a learning process for all of us and I am proud to say that I am glad you all have been here every step of the way!

As we continue to experience growth, we also must continue to expand our donor program utilizing our onsite Call Center. We know that with growth comes the added pressure to bring in the goods to meet customer demand. Donations all across the board have successfully risen during the past few months to meet the added demand of items ranging from clothing, furniture, appliances, books, electronics, decorations, cookware, lighting, and more. In order to keep up, our donor coordinators have become more creative in accessing donations through a variety of small businesses, charitable organizations, and even apartment complexes across Greene and Christian counties.

As we expand our footprint across the Missouri Ozarks, it has become more imperative that we work with other charitable organizations as they may also have items that we need. The other side of working with charitable organizations in our community is that in some form or another, we are all supporting a cause or are benefiting those in need! In many ways, through donations and partnerships, we have developed a tighter bond with many giving organizations and people throughout the greater Springfield community!

Speaking of the community, in this issue of the Chronicle, you will all be able to read another article about your thrift store regarding our outreach and how we are being noticed in our community. As the General Manager, I was honored as a Hometown Hero in Springfield during the month of January in regards to my visual impairment and our continued community outreach. This is a tremendous honor for me, our thrift store, including our staff, and the Missouri Council of the Blind as a whole! If it was not for all of your support and the hard work put in by our team here at the thrift store, none of this would be possible, so thank you!

We really enjoy keeping you all updated on the status of our store, outreach, and our employees. It continues to be a pleasure knowing that our staff here in Springfield is making such a positive impact on the Missouri Council of the Blind as well as the community in which we live!

New Image Thrift Store :: September 2013

By Angela Goodwin, General Manager

On behalf of the Missouri Council of the Blind New Image Thrift Store, I would like to say Thank You for your continued support! New Image Thrift Store is happy to report that we continue to experience steady growth, and this past quarter was no exception.

Our total sales in the second quarter of 2013 were $144,250.48, which is a $50,532 increase over the $93,718.45 that we brought in during the same period of 2012. Also, we witnessed a total of 16,138 customers at our store during this past quarter, which was an increase of 4,453 from the 11,685 customers that we served during the same period of 2012.

We continue to expand our donor program through our call center. For the month of June alone, the success rate (the rate of actual donation pick-ups compared to the number of calls made) in the call center was an outstanding 18%! This was, by far, the highest rate of success that we have recorded here in our call center. This equated to a total of 509 donation pick-ups for the month of June, which was also the most that our drivers have taken on during a one-month time frame.

As you can see from these figures above, your thrift store here in Springfield is paving the way to success as we continue to expand our foot print. While we measure our growth and success in sales, we would also like to take this a few steps further. Our staff at New Image is the reason we have been able to increase our overall growth. Our staff understands the importance of what Missouri Council of the Blind offers the blind community, as well as what this organization means to the community as a whole. Our entire team understands that what MCB does, makes a tremendous difference in the lives of many throughout our state. This has had a lasting impression upon our staff with the effects being witnessed in all areas throughout the store! I am very proud of our entire team for all of the hard work they have put into our store!

We continue to look for ways to help the community every day. Whether it’s recycling items to keep them out of landfills or giving shoes to individuals that help the homeless, we are involved. We recently began an initiative in which we donate books to the Greene County Justice System. Every day we receive more books than we can process, so we have partnered with Greene County to donate a portion of our excess books to help the Greene County Justice System empower those in need. Greene County has also purchased vouchers from our store to help community members reestablish themselves. We hope that through this initiative, we can expand partnership with Greene County to help enhance the lives of others!

Lastly, we also measure our success in terms of community outreach. This includes helping people from all walks of life. In our last edition, we touched on the work that we are doing with the ARC of the Ozarks and Alternative Opportunities through our volunteer programs. So now, we would like to talk about what we are doing to get the blind community involved.

We currently have three individuals who live with vision loss who currently work at the thrift store. One particular individual, who is completely blind, works in our call center and does a phenomenal job of bringing in donations to this store by working directly with donors and setting schedules based on their respective addresses. This is not an easy task as we work feverishly to reduce fuel costs by utilizing various forms of mapping software when scheduling a pick-up. This can be difficult at times as donors may not be ready on certain pick-up days. It is his job to exclusively work with the donor while making sure we are as efficient as possible. He has been instrumental in helping to grow our call center and donor program into what it is today! He is an asset to our team with his dedication and hard work in linking the community to the Missouri Council of the Blind through donations!

We also have another employee living with partial vision loss who provides a great service to our team in the warehouse. This individual handles tasks such as baling clothing, sorting inventory, quality control, cleaning, unloading and loading vehicles, and working with donors and customers. When considering the degree of his vision loss, his continual dedication and hard work has been an inspiration to our team.

Lastly, our Assistant Manager is also legally blind. This individual handles many day-to-day operations while managing our call center, donor program, community outreach, and sales and marketing. He has held this position for over a year and has been instrumental in expanding our donor base into what it is today. As the General Manager of New Image Thrift Store, I am fortunate to have such an intelligent, dependable, and driven Assistant Manager. He truly is an asset to our management team and our store overall!

In closing, our hope is that we continue to grow not only in sales, donations, and customer base, but also in our efforts to reach and serve all members of our community! Thank You for supporting us in this journey!

Thrift Store Report :: June 2013

By Angela Goodwin, Store Manager

On behalf of the Missouri Council of the Blind New Image Thrift Store, I would like to say Thank You for all of your support! My name is Angela Goodwin, the General Manager, and I would like to share with you the accomplishments and contributions that the thrift store has made this year through the support of the Missouri Council of the Blind, our community, and our employees.

You will be happy to know that our store is growing and thriving here in Springfield! We have noted an increase in customer traffic along with store sales through the first quarter of 2013. Our total sales through this time period were $136,344.40 dollars with a total of 15,783 customers through our doors. This is a substantial increase of $41,427.57 with an additional 5,264 customers from the first quarter of 2012, none of which could have been possible without MCB, our amazing donors, our community, and our employees! We have also been able to expand our donor lists through our on-site call center as well as our media and online advertising. This has effectively expanded our store’s inventory which has, in turn, increased the overall variety offered to our customers while adding quantity and quality.

While we have grown in total sales and foot traffic, we have also grown through community outreach. We understand that without the support of the community through donations and our shoppers, we are not able to function here in Springfield. Our staff has done a wonderful job working with groups and organizations throughout the area hoping to make a difference just as our supporters have been able to do for us.

An example of this type of work comes from our Fashion Show that we sponsor every other month at the Northview Senior Center. Certain members of our staff participate in the show along with individuals from Northview by modeling the clothing sold here at our store. Through this show, we have really been able to bond with some of the customers that come through our doors while also having a great time showing off our clothing! We also help sponsor bingo events at Northview as well as the South Side Senior Center each month.

Another monthly program that we offer is a children’s Story Time. Sponsored by the Springfield-Greene County Public Library, we hold a Story Time here at the thrift store for young children and their parents. This is a fun-filled event that encourages good reading habits between children and their parents. Story Time helps to increase community awareness of the long-term, positive development a child receives as their parents read to them.

The thrift store also reaches out to organizations that work with developmental disabilities such as the Arc of the Ozarks and Alternative Opportunities. We encourage individuals from these organizations to volunteer at the store in hopes that they will develop the skills necessary to be successful in a job setting.

We do encourage these volunteers to apply for any open positions here at MCB along with other available positions throughout the area. Those that volunteer here receive a letter of recommendation from the management staff along with other forms of support as they begin seeking employment. A really neat attribute of this program is that these volunteers are providing a valuable service to the Missouri Council of the Blind of which they can be proud!

Lastly, our store has become a great resource to those in need who utilize organizations such as the Missouri Career Center, The Red Cross, Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC), and The Salvation Army. We offer a voucher program that allows for less fortunate individuals to receive certain items of need at no cost to them. These items range anywhere from clothing necessary for job interviews to replacement furniture items given to those who have lost their homes either by fire or due to a natural disaster. This program has been well received by our community and is one that we are thankful to take part.

We hope that these programs continue to grow along with our opportunity to provide other services for MCB. Our staff has done a great job passing along resource information to those who are interested in MCB and may want to become future members. We also offer a small meeting room inside the thrift store that helps cater to local affiliates and organizations anytime they wish to gather.

One such group that uses this room is the Missouri Deaf-Blind Association (MODBA). This organization uses the aforementioned space every other month to host their group functions and events. The hope is that we can expand this program such that we can better assist our members as we move forward.

We hope you all have enjoyed hearing from us here at the thrift store! We look forward to reporting to you in the future and encourage you all to like us on Facebook at Missouri Council of the Blind New Image Thrift Store or check us out on the web at http://www.mcbthriftstore.com!