Dressed to Bless

Teatime is a great time–and excuse–to put on your finest and channel your inner English aristocrat.

Looking for a fun new dress, jewelry, shoes or hat for this year’s Afternoon Tea For Hope without breaking the bank? I recently stopped at the Baxter location of Common Goods and asked Danell to show me a few affordable frocks…and she didn’t disappoint.

We had a fabulous time looking through heels, pearls, dresses, hats and more. There were also a few beautiful tea sets for those who’d like to continue the tradition of tea time long past May 7th. So be sure to stop at Common Goods in Baxter or Crosslake before the Afternoon Tea for Hope and treat yourself to something that will make you feel extra sophisticated for sipping tea!

              

And don’t forget to get your tickets! Click here to purchase by the seat or table. See you Sunday, May 7th at 2:00 PM at The Legacy at Cragun’s.

            

Spring Cleaning (and Giving)

A combination of the recent stretch of unseasonably warm weather combined with recent weight loss triggered my inner spring cleaner a couple weeks ago. It was a Saturday afternoon when I hit my closet hard and was determined to downsize and donate.

Of course, whenever I’m ready to part with treasures; they go to Common Goods. Not only do I love the concept behind the thrift store, I also love knowing that my excess could be of benefit to someone with less.Common Goods logo

So I decided to reach out Danell Eggert and Andrea Martin, Retail Managers of the Common Goods locations in Baxter and Crosslake (respectively) for tips and tricks to spring simplification.

Both ladies agreed: changing seasons result in an increase in donations. As weather gets warmer, people begin cleaning out closets and storage areas looking to declutter.

“I think it’s easy to overload our lives with stuff,” Danell said. “I find myself getting antsy when I have too much stuff around the house, and clearing out always feels better. When I go through my things I do separate out things that can’t be re-used and throw it or label it to be recycled.”

And by donating to Common Goods, it’s a win-win for you and for the community!

“By donating items to Common Goods you are directly impacting families in our local community who are being served by Bridges of Hope,” Andrea said. “Common Goods also has a major impact on the number of products leaving our area or entering our landfills. In addition to selling items in our stores, we also work hard to recycle and redistribute goods within our community.  Local donations stay local, and proceeds serve local families in need through Bridges of Hope.”

Furniture tends to be the most requested item from Common Goods customers. Dressers and bookshelves are most popular; and unique or high-end pieces are the easiest to sell.

Andrea said unique items including antiques, old books and one-of-a-kind pottery are also in demand and are top sellers.

“These are the things that people love finding in our store,” she said. “We recently sold three wood block prints in which the artist, in 1938, painted Mt Fuji from different angles. There were 36 prints in all, and it was just beautiful to see the differences in scenery and seasons as he traveled around the mountain. The prints sold within 30 minutes of us putting them on the sales floor!

We also had some rare primitive long spoons from the late 1800s that were once used for soap making and two beautiful hand blown glass bowls that were shaped like swans. Interesting items come into the store all the time, and the examples I just gave were donated–and sold–in just the last week!”

Even if you don’t have antiques and sought-after collectibles, Common Goods certainly has a need for more ‘common’ items. As families being to think spring and summer, Common Goods is eager to receive fun and bright sun dresses, shorts, life jackets, bicycles and more.

A lot of people are headed off to spring break and need swimsuits and other warm weather apparel,” Andrea noted. “It’s time to put away the boots and get out the fun strappy sandals. Water skis, wake boards, golf stuff, roller blades, sporting equipment.… If you’ve got it, we want it!”

We are so thankful for all of our donors, as everything we sell has been generously donated,” Danell added. “That is one thing I have really worked to get across is how grateful we are and that our donors’ generosity helps so many people in our communities.

Over this past year I’ve really been able to see so much good. Good in people. Volunteers. Customers. Donors. Our team. Every single person coming together really makes this place great and in turn helps so many! We get a lot of people who say this is their happy place…and that makes me happy!”

Inspired and ready to declutter? Andrea advises spring cleaners to take it a little at a time.

“Keep it simple. Start small,” she said. “Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you have to clean out your whole house from top to bottom. Make it a goal to tackle different problem areas one at a time, and be specific: ‘Tuesday, I’ll clean out the junk drawer.’ Have a donation box ready to go and add to it whenever you find items you no longer have a use for. When the box is full, DONATE! By making small regular donations it becomes a part of your lifestyle and you are less likely to find yourself cluttered in the future.”

“Stuff is just stuff,” Danell agreed. “If you have more than you need, then I say pass it on and help make a difference. That’s truly the bottom line as to why we are here… to make a difference.”

Note: When selecting items to donate, please be mindful of what can be sold versus what should be thrown, including items with stains and/or holes. If you have questions regarding making donations to Common Goods, visit www.commongoodsmn.org or call the Baxter store at 218.824.0923 or the Crosslake store at 218.692.7682.

Common Goods Now Open in Crosslake!

It’s been quite exciting and busy around here at Bridges of Hope!  In case you haven’t heard, we are officially open for business at our new Common Goods location in Crosslake! We have amazing staff who are working hard to get the space fully up & running (we were able to get into the space just yesterday). We took our first donation (also yesterday), and I literally JUST received a call from our Retail Manager, Nate, stating we’ve made our first sale TODAY!FrontofStorewithtempbanner

CrosslakeStore

As you can see in the picture, there’s still a lot of work to be done (painting among other things), so bear with us as we continue to transform the space into a unique, trendy thrift store. We are thrilled to be able to offer good quality items to the Crosslake area AND we are proud to say– all proceeds stay local and help fund the unique programming at Bridges of Hope!
CommonGoodsSupportsBoHHere are the details:

  • Store Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm & Sunday 12pm-5pm
  • Physical Address: 35562 Co Rd 66, Crosslake, MN
  • Phone #: 218-692-7682 (phones should be up & running by tomorrow)

So come on in, excuse the organized chaos, shop, and chat with one of our staff. We would love to share more with you about how donating, shopping & volunteering at Common Goods makes a difference in this community.

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For more information on our donation guidelines & other general information; check out our recent blog post: Summer Donations at Common Goods and visit our website.

(And stay tuned–we’ll be sure to share more about our progress on our Facebook page!)

 

 

Summer Donations at Common Goods

garagesale-640x391Summer time is upon us which means two things at Common GoodsGarage sale season and increased donations. Because of this, I have a couple of questions to ask you:

  • Do you have great items just sitting around that you no longer have any use for?
  • Have you recently had a garage sale or plan on having one in the near future?

If so, we may be able to help you out with some of your left over treasures! If you have items that you feel may be a good fit, we invite you to call us at 218-824-0923 or visit us at 16227 Hwy 371 N Brainerd, MN next to Dondelinger Chevrolet. We suggest you call the store to verify that we are currently accepting items and to see what our greatest needs currently are. Under most circumstances we receive donations until 5:30 pm daily. However, there are times that we have to temporarily stop receiving items due to the amount of generous donations we receive. At Common Goods we have discovered that it is in our best operating practice to only accept what we can process in one working day. If you have a large amount of items to donate we ask that you call ahead to schedule a time to donate them. The call allows us to plan ahead to prepare for the increased amount of processing that will occur.

Here is a general guideline of the items that we typically can and cannot utilize for the families we serve:

Items that we can best utilize to generate revenue to serve families:
  • Quality furniture pieces with no tares, stains or faded
  • Newer home decor pieces
  • New or gently used clothing & footwear
  • Dish or glass sets for a place setting of 4+
  • Reading books in new like condition

Items that we typically CANNOT accept to generate revenue to serve families:

  • Seasonal or holiday items 3+ months before the season
  • Large exercise equipment
  • Individual glasses, mugs, dishes
  • TV’s, computers and stereo equipment
  • Stuffed animals
  • High chairs or strollers
  • Furniture that is stained, faded or ripped

For more information on our donation guidelines, please visit our website.

We would like to thank all of our generous donors and shoppers for their loyal support over the past five years. Without your support it would not be possible to do the work we do and serve households in the Brainerd Lakes Area. So again, thank you!

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Summer Store Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day):

Monday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm & Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm. We hope to see you soon!

The Role of Volunteers at Common Goods

Bridges of Hope owns and operates a thrift store called Common Goods, which is located at 16227 Hwy 371 North in Baxter, Minnesota. If you have ever been to Common Goods, you have seen the end result of a very labor intensive process. Behind all of the shimmer, shine, and freshly steamed clothes there is an extreme amount of work that has gone into the final product. Every item that comes through the door at the store is checked, sorted, cleaned, painted, hung or steamed by group of amazing individuals. Some of the individuals are our employees; however, there are also a number of extremely hardworking individuals that volunteer their time to the cause of making Common Goods such a great success!

We have all different kinds of volunteers throughout the year. Some come in for special projects, and others volunteer every week. Volunteers at Common Goods include church youth groups, families, students, retired individuals, couples, and others. We have many opportunities for volunteering; including a new “host/hostess” volunteer position that includes greeting our customers and ensuring they have a great shopping experience. You can call Nate for more information at 218.824.0923.

Jeff & Penny CarlsonI would also like to introduce you to two of our long-time volunteers: Jeff and his mom Penny, who volunteer regularly at the store. Not only do they help us with some of daily tasks of keeping Common Goods in great shape, but they also bring with them a great deal of energy and smiles every week. Jeff and Penny are so “famous” at Common Goods that some of our regular shoppers often ask us if Jeff and Penny are in that day! Penny is our expert at keeping our $2.00 clearance section full and organized, and Jeff can usually be found at either our garment steamer or in the back room, creating great pieces of art.

Since Common Goods is part of a non-profit organization, volunteers play a vital role in cost-saving for the organization. Would you believe that volunteers donate over 60 hours of time, talent, and service every single month? There is no way that we could afford to pay for all of the amazing work that our volunteers do, and we are so grateful for their service, since profits from the store help pay for the programs offered at Bridges of Hope for individuals and families in need…so you could say that every hour of volunteering at Common Goods has a double impact in our community!

We are very grateful for all of the help that volunteers provide to the cause of Bridges of Hope and Common Goods–whether it be a one-time project, few hours every month, or every week! If you are interested in learning more about becoming one of our amazing volunteers, please contact us at (218) 824-0923 or stop by the store and we will be happy to explain the process and give you a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make our operation a success. You can also check out our website for more information.

To everyone who has, currently does, or will volunteer in the future, thank you! And remember:

volunteersnot paid

 

The Art of Upcycling

At Common Goods we are fortunate to receive a variety of unique furniture pieces from our generous donors. Some of these items can go directly to the sales floor. Other times, the pieces we receive need a little extra love and attention. At Common Goods, we call this process “upcycling“. It can be as simple as a new coat of paint, or it can be somewhat more complicated, requiring multiple steps which results in a complete transformation.

For those wanting to delve into upcycling, there is no doubt that the process can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never attempted such a project on your own before. Below I’ve included steps & pictures of a project that we completed last year, to hopefully help put your mind at ease, and to give you a little encouraging nudge to try DIY…yourself!

First, you will need to pick the piece you wish to change. Here is the before picture of a great rocking chair that was in great need of upcycling:Chair (before)

Next, you enter the “idea phase,” which can be the most difficult part at times. Fortunately, there are several websites that can help if you find yourself with “creativity block.” (Pinterest, anyone…?) If you are at a total dead-end, just go to your favorite search engine and type in what you are trying to accomplish (i.e., “How to reupholster a chair”). You will probably receive more than enough great ideas for your project!

Finally: it’s time to execute your plan (and probably do a little shopping)! Our idea was to revive this piece by painting and reupholstering this rocking chair. The materials & tools that were used for this project included primer, paint, sandpaper, a staple gun and staples, screwdriver, scissors, and fabric.

Here are the steps we took:

  1. Wash or wipe down the chair to remove any old dust and dirt.
  2. Remove the seat (so it can be recovered).
  3. Apply primer to make sure the paint adheres to the chair.
  4. Once the primer is dry; paint the chair the color of your choice.
  5. After the paint is dry; lightly sandpaper the chair along the edges to give it a vintage distressed look.
  6. Finally, put the new fabric over the old seat and staple it to the underside.

And here is the finished project:

Chair (after)

Quite the transformation, right? The best part is that a project of this size can easily be accomplished in a single weekend….and of course if DIY just isn’t you, the good news is that there is almost always a new project in the works here at Common Goods, so you can shop upcycled, too! Good luck, and happy upcycling!

Get Involved with Common Goods:

  • Shop (you can always find a great “upcycled” piece like the one above).
  • Volunteer (check out volunteer opportunities on our website).
  • Donate (check out our donation guidelines).

The Fall Season at Common Goods

DSC02106Last week was the official start of fall. To most of us that means purging closets, rotating seasonal attire and trying to prepare for what Mother Nature is about to bring us in the upcoming months (don’t worry, I won’t talk about that white fluffy stuff just yet). For those of us at Common Goods, it brings other changes–such as the types of donations we are looking for.

Just like you, we are in the process of rotating our seasonal attire, and stocking the floor with fall/winter clothing and accessories. However, in order to do that, we need seasonally appropriate clothing & accessories donated from YOU, our amazing supporters! I know when my wife goes through her clothes this time of year, it is usually the time when she gets rid of the summer things she didn’t wear. I challenge you to also go through your fall/winter clothes right now and ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Did I wear this last year?
  • If yes, ask yourself, will I wear it this year? (if your answer is yes, keep it)
  • If no to either the first or second question, ask yourself, is it still in great shape?
  • If your answer is yes, then donate it to Common Goods!

A few of our specific needs this year are fall and winter attire, including sweaters, jackets and boots.bed

One type of item that we always welcome, no matter the time of year, is good quality furniture. High-end furniture pieces are the most sought-after items at Common Goods. Who doesn’t love finding a unique piece of quality furniture at a fraction of the cost that ALSO allows Bridges of Hope to serve even more families in the Lakes Area! By donating or purchasing these amazing pieces of furniture at Common Goods, YOU play a vital role in the success of Bridges of Hope and the programs that it offers. The items that our customers ask about the most are large, solid wood pieces such as hutches, armoires, complete dining sets, and beds/bed frames like the one pictured here.

Our staff will be more than happy to work to accommodate a local furniture pickup for your items. If you have items that you are willing to donate, please call Common Goods at 218-824-0923 or email nate@commongoodsmn.org to start the process.

Don’t forget to check out our donation guidelines–thank you for your support!