Trotter Opens Retail Outlet

June 6, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Mel Trotter Ministries opened an 11,900-square-foot retail store Friday in hopes of generating a new revenue stream to help house and feed the community’s working poor.

The new Mel Trotter’s Store, at 2950 Broadmoor Ave. SE in Kentwood, is open six days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It carries donated clothing, as well as new clothing items donated by area businesses.

About 90 percent of the merchandise is clothing and the remaining 10 percent is comprised of shoes, boots, toys and books, said Doug Redford, assistant director of advancement for the mission. Brand new items are offered at deeply discounted prices.

Retail store sales revenues will be used to support men, women and children in both the ministry’s long-term substance abuse program and its emergency overnight shelters, said Executive Director Thomas J. Meyers.

Revenues also are expected to give a boost to Mel Trotter’s growing food box program, which provides more than 10,000 meals each month for at-home consumption. Requests for food boxes distributed through the ministry’s Community Service Department have increased 36 percent over the past year, Meyers noted.

Redford said the Mel Trotter team has been working on the retail store project for the past six months.

“We looked at different locations and did some pretty extensive demographic work and ran a whole lot of numbers to see if we felt we could make it work,” he said.

Mel Trotter is leasing the one-story vacant building on Broadmoor at a rate that’s “pretty good for both the ministry and the landlord,” he said. The building most recently housed a seasonal Halloween costume shop. It was previously home to Wells Fargo Financial and before that, a carpet and flooring store.

A number of local businesses donated money to cover the cost of remodeling the building on Broadmoor to accommodate the new store. Redford said building renovations included electrical and HVAC work, new carpet and tile installation, painting and window treatments, and parking lot repaving.

Businesses donating to the project were: Medema’s Carpet and Interiors Inc.; Dimension Graphics; Larry Broomeberg Inc.; Klumps Luggage & Leather Repair; Arnie’s Bakery and Restaurants; Gordon Food Service; United Commercial; Taatjes & Tol Inc.; Superior Asphalt; The Gardner Landscape & Design; Quality Air Heating & Cooling; Buist Electric Inc.; Paramount Properties; Video-Tech-Tronics; and Visser Brothers Inc.

“Very conservatively, we’re hoping to net about $250,000 a year,” Redford said. “We have no track record to go on, so we wanted to put some figures together that we thought would be achievable for us.”

Four full-time and four part-time people, some paid and some volunteer, currently staff the store.

“We really need volunteers,” said Sandra Enders, development assistant for Mel Trotter. “If anybody’s interested in donating their time, it would really help keep our costs down.”

Meanwhile, Mel Trotter continues to give away clothing items at the mission’s in-house store, Redford noted.

“That is absolutely free and always will remain that way. People who need clothing can still come into our clothing room Monday through Friday and get what they need at absolutely no cost.”    

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