Storefront and Marketing Donations Make Nonprofit Retail Pop-Up a Real ‘Fixture’ in Chicago
Pop-up supports disadvantaged girls with high potential
By Tara Laskowski
When you walk into a small boutique or retail store, you are most likely looking at the clothing, jewelry and gift items and not the fixtures.
And yet, for a nonprofit organization looking to support their programs with a retail location, it is the little details that can make or break them.
When the Aparecio Foundation in Illinois decided to fund their programs by creating a pop-up store in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, they realized they needed mannequins, clothing racks and other fixtures to display their goods. And yet, items such as these could cost upwards of $20,000.
Then Good360 came to the rescue. After Aparecio Foundation executive director and founder Jessica George saw an email from Good360 announcing a donation of fixtures, tables and mannequins from ANN INC., they acted quickly—and their dream was soon realized.
“It was perfect. It all worked out so well,” she says.
Aparecio Foundation works with low-income, high-potential high-school girls on targeted programming and mentorships to keep them in school and give them opportunities they may not have had otherwise. Started in 2009, the foundation works with community partners and business and academic leaders on programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), healthy habits, workplace training and other initiatives.
George, who has a background in banking and finance, saw a need for this type of programming from her own career path. “I just didn’t see a lot of women leadership in high places. I think if you are to be truly successful, you need mentors to guide and help you, and I wanted to provide that to young women out there who might not know where to find it.”
The funds raised from the pop-up store, Chicago Hasana, Inc., will go toward developing a STEM workshop for students in a Chicago public school. About 20 young women will spend 11 weeks working with academics and professionals in science, technology and math fields to learn about potential career paths and work on creating and presenting a solution to a real-world challenge. The eleven-week session will be followed by a week-long on-the-ground training session with a science organization. The focus of the sessions will center on physical science education, science, engineering, mathematics and aerospace with real-world applications.
The store, which features jewelry, men’s and women’s accessories, women’s apparel, gifts and home goods, and highlights local designers as much as possible, was supposed to last only three months. However, the boutique has been so successful that the organization has decided to keep it going. “People keep coming in; it’s been well-received,” George says.
ANN INC. introduced the ANNCares360 Store Donation Program in 2012 to honor their commitment to minimize their impact on the environment while giving back to the communities they serve. ANNCares360, developed in partnership with Good360, connects Ann Taylor, LOFT, Ann Taylor Factory and LOFT Outlet stores to Good360’s online product donation marketplace. The program provides Store Managers with the tools to donate available displays, marketing items and fixtures to qualified recipients.
George credits Good360 and ANN INC. with providing the perfect donation at the perfect time. “I just appreciate Good360’s wide variety of offerings and trying to think creatively about what types of items your nonprofits might need,” she says. “And without ANN INC.’s generosity, we would never have such a beautiful storefront.”