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Paying It Forward

This month’s featured grant recipient is Western Sustainability Exchange’s Farmer’s Market Young Entrepreneurial Stewards (YES) program. Meet Caleb, who makes and sells Lefse at the Farmer’s Market. “Thanks for funding the YES, it was really fun and I wrote a business plan with a loan that I’ll pay back from sales. When deciding what my product would be, I thought about making Lefse with my Grandpa and how much I liked it. We grossed $40 our first day, even though we had to leave early for Baseball.”

Another young entrepreneur says she’s been wanting to be part of the YES club and Farmer’s Market for a year. Her product development started with her love for dogs. “I see so many tied up and I wanted people to be able to take their dogs on walks with a pretty leash. I researched by watching videos and decided to make leashes out of colored duct tape. I pick out colors I like and use a carabiner to hook to the collar. I tried them out on my dog, and they can be stuffed toy leashes too.” She wants to donate part of her proceeds to Shelter dogs. Head down to the Western Sustainability Exchange’s Farmer’s Market this summer and meet the young entrepreneurs yourself.

The Community Closet is dedicated to investing in our community for years to come, Founder and CEO Caron Cooper says, “You never know what you’re going to spark,” and we’re hoping it’s the next generation of entrepreneurs!

Since opening, the Community Closet has been overwhelmed by the success of our business model. Our success meant more donations and more waste, and we soon turned to a new business outlet, the Alley Annex, as an overflow store. Any products not sold are put in free carts and rolled outside. Our efforts to reduce waste were recognized by the EPA with a national Pollution Prevention award. Our next step was to open our downtown store, the Curated Closet, to target a different market – folks that appreciate high-end and historic merchandise but want to avoid the thrift store experience.

After thirteen years of business we have 3 stores in Livingston, a mobile sales unit, and have given more than $350,000 in cash grants to nonprofits and civic activities in Park County, as well as donating thousands of dollars in merchandise to area schools and charitable organizations.

Learn more about the Community Closet’s simple grant program at or email The next funding application deadlines are: September 30, and November 24. All three of Community Closet thrift stores are open weekends, learn more at

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