Valley Information – Jim Kenyon: Nonprofit Pay attention adds spendy boutique to Lebanon thrift keep

A thousand bucks for a coat? (Granted, it is 100% cashmere.) What about $250 for…

A thousand bucks for a coat? (Granted, it is 100% cashmere.) What about $250 for a designer winter season jacket with a faux fur collar? And $100 for a stylish blazer that appears to be like it could belong in Nancy Pelosi’s do the job wardrobe?

Welcome to Hear Boutique, “where shoppers can glimpse for that better finish clothing obtain.”

The boutique, which opened past Tuesday, can take up just a person area inside of Listen’s 13,000-sq.-foot thrift retail outlet on Miracle Mile in Lebanon. But judging from early Fb returns, not everyone approves of Listen’s enterprise into upscale pricing, even on a compact scale.

“Listen is getting rid of what it indicates to be a thrift store,” commenced out a put up on the nonprofit’s Facebook site that immediately drew a trio of thumbs-ups.

In announcing the boutique’s opening, Hear reminded its Facebook followers that “our main mission is to give a room wherever economical apparel is available for absolutely everyone in the Upper Valley.

“However, we have heard from some folks that they’d like to see a area where some of our greater excellent, far more costly apparel can be seen jointly.”

I don’t have a dilemma with that.

Pay attention, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this calendar year, is an Upper Valley gem. It will help people today who are battling with lease payments and heating gasoline payments. It operates a food items pantry that distributes 20,000 bins of meals a yr and also operates community dinners that serve 80 to 100 meals six evenings a week. It foots the monthly bill for summer months camps for additional than 100 kids whose households just can’t afford to deliver them.

Listen pumps $1.25 million a yr into its social provider applications. The thrift merchants in Lebanon, White River Junction and Canaan provide about 25% of the profits applied to operate those applications.

So when Pay attention Government Director Kyle Fisher read from workers and men and women in the neighborhood that a boutique could support the base line, he gave the eco-friendly light.

“It’s an experiment for us,” he explained to me. “One of the good matters about the Upper Valley place is the high quality of donations we get. It is an insult to our donors not to get as significantly worth as we can for merchandise, so we’re in a superior economical situation to help persons in want.”

On Thursday, I stopped by the new boutique, which occupies primary window space at the entrance of the retail outlet. Some merchandise experienced their first tags, which indicated to me — the astute shopper that I am — that they’d never been worn.

Listen’s luxurious apparel selling prices seemed more than truthful. A Vineyard Vines men’s h2o-repellent jacket detailed for $239 on the company’s web-site could be experienced for $50. Pants that — according to the product sales tag — an Upper Valley retail store had marked for $60 was offered in the boutique for $25.

Some people today argue Hear shouldn’t place donated apparel at costs that not everybody can afford. But in an odd way, the new boutique is leveling the taking part in area.

Listen’s thrift merchants have turn into prime discount hunting territory for “re-sellers,” Fisher explained. They get there when the doorways open in the morning to swiftly seize outfits new to the product sales flooring. Right after using advantage of Listen’s minimal charges, they sell the items for massive revenue on eBay or in consignment shops.

“Other individuals under no circumstances get to see these things,” Fisher claimed.

If the boutique’s bumped-up prices are chopping into their earnings margin, re-sellers might feel 2 times right before snatching whichever name-brand clothes they can get hand their palms on, Fisher claimed.

Listen was hearing grievances about its costs lengthy ahead of the boutique opened. During one of our discussions prior to she retired as Listen’s executive director in 2016, Merilynn Bourne tackled the topic head-on.

“People say to me all the time, ‘You’re charging to significantly,’ ” Bourne reported. “Well, fantastic luck acquiring a place in the Upper Valley in which you can get better offers.”

Bourne, who spent 15 many years at Listen’s helm, wasn’t 1 to mince text. “If we don’t make funds, we cannot endure,” she informed me.

Soon after checking out the boutique, I walked all over other areas of the retail outlet. Acquiring bargains was not a problem. In Kid’s Corner, an infant’s snowsuit was marketing for $4. In the rows of outfits for adults, I arrived across Levi’s jeans for $5 and wintertime jackets for $15.

Hear presents clothing and household furniture vouchers for individuals and households who are getting difficulty making ends meet.

And contrary to lots of nonprofits, Listen doesn’t depend on federal government funding, which provides it additional “flexibility to present rapid aid the place the want is,” Fisher mentioned.

In other text, Hear does not have to worry about complying with authorities pink tape. When another person comes in looking for heat clothes for an infant or a bed for an apartment they’ve just moved into, they are not greeted with a mound of paperwork.

“We don’t have to inquire people today a lot of concerns or make judgments,” Fisher explained.

I inspire any individual who queries no matter whether Pay attention is fulfilling its mission to look at the organization’s federal tax filings. They are offered on line at GuideStar, which specializes in reporting on U.S. nonprofits.

For its most recent filing in 2020, Listen gained GuideStar’s leading grade for transparency and accountability — a distinction reached by less than 5% of registered nonprofits.

Now back again to the $1,000 cashmere coat.

When I returned to the boutique on Friday, I uncovered a shopper with the coat firmly in her grasp.

Soon after operating in industrial true estate in a further part of the place, the female stated she had moved to the Woodstock area. She didn’t want to give me her title, mentioning some thing about preferring her mother not locate out about the extravagant buy she was quickly to make.

The lady experienced come to Pay attention in look for of dining room chairs. Then she noticed the Italian-created coat in the window. “It’s a Loro Piana,” she educated me. “It’s a $10,000 coat.”

Holy Neiman Marcus. Judging from my Google lookup, I don’t doubt it.

The female negotiated the price down to $800, which was however a bonanza for Pay attention.

Mentioned Fisher, “That’s two much more propane tanks we can fill.”

Jim Kenyon can be reached at

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