Shock waves abounded throughout the area upon learning of the announcement Shop on State (A non-profit thrift shop) was closing its doors for good on October 31. First of all, a little history; Shop on State was the inspiration of Osage native, Chris Fannin. It began with her vision, no money, no workers, no place of business, etc.
I'm not sure how she put it all together, but she sold the idea to others of like persuasion. Her church, the United Church of Christ, stepped forward offering space, a three member board of directors was formed, a non-profit 501 c (3) was applied for and the word was out. I will not go into more details but a heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to Chris for her vision, her role as manager for over eight years of its existence, the board members for the unwavering support, the many volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make a "GO" of this incredible organization.
I would be remiss in not including a great benefactor, Mary Dunea, who offered the building she owned, free of charge, (the former Washington School), to house Shop on State as it grew. There was an agreement on the part of both parties as to the payment of utilities, but no rent! THANK YOU Mary, from a grateful community.
The building was sold a year ago in November and the new owner honored a year long agreement with the same terms they had with Mary. This agreement ends the 1st of November. Over the past months the owner and Shop on State board have worked on terms of a lease agreement; without an agreement satisfactory to both parties, thus the reason for the announcement of the closing.
With so many expressing concern and sadness over the closing, I am reaching out to the community to see if there is a way to continue this operation. In doing so, I have had conversations with Chris, the board of directors and some of the volunteers as well as the new owner of the building. I have learned a great deal from these conversations and have an open mind in moving forward.
Let me give a few reasons that have given me the stamina to move forward. Shop on State has been an economic development in bringing many people to Osage that shopped or dined in other places. It has provided a place for shopping that is affordable for many on limited means.
It has been a great service for an estate or when one is downsizing their home, to give those articles with Shop on State providing the man power and transportation to get them to Shop on State.
Volunteers have expressed their enjoyment in working together both socially and in the grand scheme of making a difference in the lives in the community.
The greatest of all, are the grants available to non-profits in two grant cycles each year. This coming week the last grant cycle awards will be granted and I've been told by Chris this will take them over the $500,000 mark in just 8 1/2 years. These grants have been most beneficial to grant recipients from all over the county.
One board member suggested there might be a need for a "fresh start,” that could include a new place of occupancy, a change in name which would require the formation of a new 501c 3 designation, rules in acceptance of donations etc. That same person has been a valuable volunteer from the beginning and provided me with lots of information on the growth as well as some of the down side in donations dropped off in garbage bags that turned out to be unacceptable items, in other words some have used it as a "dumping" place!
I come to you with a plea; are there those out there that might step forward to save this great endeavor? What is needed are persons that might be willing to assume a role as a co-manager, more volunteers, and interest in assuming positions on the board of directors. This includes persons from all over the county! In speaking with Chris, I found a willingness on her part to help in a transition period; she has the knowledge of the complete organization.
I am open in helping to facilitate the process of saving this non-profit thrift shop. Anyone having suggestions or an interest in filling one of the aforementioned positions, please contact me at 641-732-4463 or email at email@example.com. Time is of the essence!