According to a recent report from the Rocky Mountain Economic Development District, the Community Closet has generated more than $5.5 million in economic development and produced nearly $670,000 in tax revenues since its opening in October of 2005. The Northern Rocky Mountain Economic Development District is a not-for-profit organization that supports economic development in Park and Gallatin Counties through the provision of business support services and strategic cooperation among private, public and governmental stakeholders. This study was funded with assistance by NorthWestern Energy. Read the Bozeman Daily Chronicle story about here.
A large percentage of the benefits, almost $4 million, were retained in the local Park County area. Founder and CEO Caron Cooper says, “Most people don’t realize the significant role nonprofits can play in a region’s economy – or that nonprofits contribute to the tax base with fees and payroll taxes – in addition to serving the people of our community in multiple ways.”
According to Cooper, “our start-up was a reaction to other nonprofit thrift stores failing in our market – first the Salvation Army, and then the American Red Cross. They failed because they didn’t modernize their model or understand their customers, and their hands were tied by their corporate missions.” Conversely, the Rocky Mountain Economic Development District report states, “the Community Closet is seeking to redefine the business model for both pollution prevention and philanthropic second-hand sales.”
Cumulative giving over twelve years of operation has been $400,000 in cash grants and tens of thousands of dollars in store merchandise to nonprofits, civic activities, and individuals in need. “This is an amazing number, considering we are operating in a town of 7,000 and our start-up funding was only $12,000,” said Cooper.
Community Closet also creates community; they’ve been supported by more than 3,000 volunteer hours and are sensitive to creating an environment free from the traditional thrift store stigma and establishing a culture of community engagement. Community Closet Thrift Store offers a no-cost, welcoming, accepting and neutral environment where people can go any day of the week for as much, or as little, socialization as they desire. Customers are never pressured to buy anything, and there are often spontaneous parties and celebrations, and sales.
Thanks to the many donors, shoppers, volunteers and community organizations who have made this impact possible.