Nonprofits and Retail

Nonprofit opens clothing store to the public

August 4, 2017
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North Kent Connect
North Kent Connect has opened its formerly client-only clothing store to the public. Photo via fb.com

A Christian nonprofit that serves residents of northern Kent County has converted a former clothing pantry into an affordable apparel and home goods store for the public.

The shop at North Kent Connect, in the nonprofit’s 16,000-square-foot facility at 10075 Northland Drive NE in Rockford, opened to the community today at 10 a.m.

NKC — which was formerly called North Kent Community Services but changed its name in May — has operated a free clothing pantry since the nonprofit was founded 43 years ago.

The new clothing store replaces the pantry and now charges “affordable prices” to the public for gently used, high-quality clothing and household items. NKC clients are eligible to receive clothing from the store under a three-pronged VIP plan: volunteer, invest or purchase, which means they can earn store credit by volunteering in the community, investing in taking classes or purchasing the clothing outright.

Claire Guisfredi, NKC executive director, said the change was about helping clients build up their self-respect.

“Financial struggles can be a very humbling experience,” she said. “Shopping at North Kent Connect Store serves as a reminder that everyone has something to offer. It gives our clients dignity knowing that they can give back in some way — through volunteering, investing in themselves (by taking a class) or purchasing items.”

Guisfredi said the store also will offer job skills training for special needs young adults.

Store hours for the public beginning today are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The store is open for clients only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

All proceeds from the store will go toward NKC’s community empowerment programs.

North Kent Connect

Founded in 1973 as the Rockford Community Service Center by members of the Rockford Area Ministerial Association, NKC is an ecumenical Christian organization that aims to provide access to basic needs and promote economic independence among northern Kent County residents.

With an operating budget of $3 million, the nonprofit served 1,500 households and 5,000 individuals in 2016 with a staff of 10 people and 140 volunteers.

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