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!)

 

 

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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 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!

Great Partnerships, Guaranteed

Amazing things are happening at Bridges of Hope, all because of you.

BOH_BBCampaign_36kBecause of you, today (one week before Thanksgiving), our Fall Fundraising Campaign (60K in 60 Days) has reached $36,000 of our $60,000 goal, just 21 days into the campaign–that is simply incredible. That translates into help and hope for 240 more families this year. Thank you.

Common Goods - Hip ThriftBecause of you, Common Goods has had a record-breaking number of shoppers (and sales) in the past 30 days–which means even more help and hope for families in our community! Thank you for both donating such high-quality items and for coming in and shopping for those amazing items.

Because of you, we are SO CLOSE to meeting the challenge of providing Thanksgiving Meals for 368 households this year–100 more than any year in the past! (Approximately 50 more sponsors are needed for adult households without children. Click here to learn more.) Thank you.

Because of you, Bridges of Hope is able to partner with our local landlords, utility companies, local businesses, auto repairs, appliance stores, local agencies, area churches, and others to provide critical shelter and basic needs assistance to families in our community, and we are so thankful to you for your willingness to partner with Bridges of Hope. Since our inception, Bridges of Hope has worked with well over 100 different partners/vendors in Crow Wing County and the surrounding communities. Thank you. 

Our amazing local partnerships are something I’d like to tell you a little more about:

Bridges of Hope is first and foremost a resource and referral agency–our role is to bridge the gap between those in need in our community and the community assets that can help them. But of course there are times when all of the local resources have been exhausted, or nothing exists to help with a particular situation, or there is some other reasonable explanation as to why we are unable to connect them to local resources, but the family’s situation still warrants helping.

In those times (depending on whether we have funding), Bridges is able to assist financially, thanks to our church-supported community benevolence funds (Spirit of Kindness Fund) and the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation-supported fund, Spirit of Hope. Annually, this is still a very small percentage of the overall services we provide (in 2012, it was ~160 of 2,570 households), but in those situations it still matters a LOT, and that is when our local partnerships are so important and so helpful.

Guarantee of Payment Letter ExampleEven if we’re able to make a decision to assist a family, it can still take up to 3 weeks to draw up the appropriate paperwork, have it approved by a supervisor, sent to our accountant, have a check issued, and then have the payment actually received by whatever business we’re working with.

That is why we are so grateful for the acceptance of our “Guarantee of Payment” letter, which is exactly what it sound like–the business/vendor trusts our word that we are going to pay on the client’s behalf, and they accept the letter as “payment” while they wait for our check to arrive.

This removes a HUGE amount of stress from the family we’re working with, as well as enables us to work through the needed internal controls practices that are required of us. We use this process in situations such as electric shut offs, eviction notices, car repairs, housing repairs, rent, and deposits, among many other unique situations.

An example of how this works would be in a situation where Bridges of Hope is working with a homeless family of five with an annual income of $34,700. We work with them to find affordable housing, which is recommended to be about 30% of their income. They find an available place for $775/month that meets this guideline, but in order to move in, their new rental requires first month’s rent and a damage deposit, as well as a utility deposit to hook up their electricity and heat–over $1,800 for a family that makes just $2,900 per month. In addition, their income of $34,700 was calculated based on one of the parents’ new jobs, where they have only received one paycheck so far–but the family cannot move in until all the deposits have been paid.

This is a common scenario for families in our community, but thanks to the acceptance of our “Guarantee of Payment” letter by our amazing partners, we are able to assist the family in getting into their affordable housing without further delays. We know that stable, safe, and affordable housing is the backbone of a successful, productive community member–and this is just one simple way that several different parts of our community pull together to help some of our members in need.

So because of you, Bridges is able to continue fulfilling our mission to bridge the gaps, support & strengthen families, and send a message of hope. Thank you to all of our partners in the Lakes Area and beyond. Together we are making a difference in our “commUNITY.”

Something for Everyone

Ever wonder where you could buy a nearly-life-sized Orangutan Puppet? What about a Snowman Pinata? A bench made from a sleigh bed?  A purse made from an old children’s book? A telescope?

If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s Common Goods! That’s right–all of these things have been for sale at Common Goods at some point in time (maybe even right now!).

Purse from Children's Book

When we say the merchandise changes every day, we really mean that–because our inventory completely depends on what we receive in donations: high-quality, gently-used housewares, clothing, and furniture from the public–from YOU. Common Goods is a community-based thrift store–and YOU make the community part happen in a big way! We are so grateful for your generosity.

Boy with Organutan

Common Goods will be celebrating its fourth anniversary this fall–four years of wonderful donations from hundreds of local donors, four years upcycling and creative re-purposing, four years of loyal shoppers, and hundreds and hundreds of hours from dedicated volunteers.

The profits at Common Goods go back to supporting the work of Bridges of Hope: helping families and individuals with whatever challenge has gotten between them and their family’s safety, stability, and success. In the last four years, that means YOU have helped make a difference in the lives of literally thousands of households here in the Lakes Area.

Sleigh Bed Bench

We have YOU to thank for so much of our success over these last four years, and we hope to continue serving families in need, the community as whole, and YOU even better in our next four years.

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Through the summer (Memorial Day – Labor Day), Common Goods is open 11-5 on Sundays, in addition to our regular hours: Monday through Saturday, 10-6!

Learn more about Common Goods here.

Common Goods’ Top 10 Most Appreciated Donations

Telescope at Common GoodsAt Common Goods, we literally receive thousands of donations every year–it’s the backbone of our business, and we truly wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the generosity of our faithful donors!

The following is a list I’ve compiled of our “Top Ten” most appreciated donations. These items are our best sellers, are the most sought after by shoppers, and just fit the mission and “vibe” of Common Goods in general. Take a look and see if you’ve ever donated–or purchased–any of the items on the list!

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10. Clothing for the whole family

9. Shoes and winter boots for the whole family

8. Games and Puzzles – all pieces included

7. Books – current titles, for the whole family (please no text books, encyclopedias or Readers Digest)

6. Sets of dishes and glassware (3 or more is considered a set)

5. Handbags, purses, luggage

4. Jewelry

3. Stylish Home Decor

2. Furniture – demand is high for home furniture that is clean and in good condition.  Pick up available for large pieces.

1. The unique is always welcome!

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Hopefully something on that list inspired you to come in and shop, or to drop off a year-end donation! Common Goods has just started its fourth year of operation, and we are so grateful to the hundreds of generous donors and eager shoppers who have made Common Goods the great store it is today!

If anything on this list inspired you to donate, Common Goods accepts donations Monday – Saturday from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm. Remember that all items donated to Common Goods need to be in clean, saleable condition– with all parts and pieces included. Calling beforehand is recommended, especially if you have a lot to donate. If you have large items, you will need to call and schedule an appointment. When considering whether something is a good fit for our store, you can take a look at our donation guidelines here, and we encourage you to spend some time shopping first at Common Goods if you’ve never been there, to get a good idea about the kinds of items we are able to sell.

Common Goods was created to financially support the work of Bridges of Hope, a faith-based human services nonprofit that has been serving children and families in need since 2002.