Deep-discount retailer Gathering in Style, a store that raises money to help the homeless in Placer County, relocated earlier this month to a Roseville shopping center that has become a nexus for bargain hunters.
The Gathering In Style shop, now at 1811 Douglas Blvd., moved into Placer Center Plaza, also home to Ross Dress for Less and the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop. Directly across Santa Clara Drive, shoppers will find a Goodwill store and ReNew Boutique.
Gathering In Style manager Barbara Laughlin said she hopes the proximity to the other stores will pay off with increased traffic – and profits. Any money the retail shop earns over expenses gets funneled back to The Gathering Inn, a Roseville-based nonprofit that operates a nomadic shelter in concert with 47 Placer County churches. The churches take turns feeding and housing the homeless on a nightly basis.
“We pay for all our clothing at a deep discount,” Laughlin explained. “We have an account with Macy’s where we buy their overstock.”
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It’s a strategy also employed by off-price retailers such as Ross and Marshalls. While the Discovery Shop and Goodwill are thrift shops, ReNew offers both thrift and consignment merchandise. Increasingly, such discount retailers have found it pays to form retail clusters because shoppers enjoy checking out the inventory at multiple thrift and discount stores.
The Gathering Inn acquired the Shop-a-holic clothing boutique, 415 Roseville Square, last November for an undisclosed price. The nonprofit had hoped to net at least $50,000 a year from sales, Laughlin said, but it has turned a profit in only a couple months.
Laughlin is the only employee, but she’s aided by a staff of 23 volunteers like Carmel Brant. The Roseville retiree, who volunteers about four days a month, said she started helping out after seeing how The Gathering Inn assisted a neighbor who ended up homeless.
“His parents died, and they had the house in reverse mortgage,” Brant said. “He had taken care of his parents for 20 years. He had nowhere to go and no money. I started doing his laundry, and I found somebody to put him up in an old motor home. For over a year, he lived in his car, and then finally, The Gathering Inn helped him get an apartment.”
Bargain hunter Pat Cousin, a Citrus Heights resident, has shopped at the store since it was known as Shop-a-holic. She walked in last week wearing a sweater tunic and jeans that she’d bought at the store.
“When I got these clothes,” she said, “I think I also got two pairs of jeans and another top. I don’t think I even spent $80, but this sweater and jeans alone would have cost $80 at Macy’s.”
It’s not just the bargains that bring her to Gathering In Style, Cousin said. She also gets old-fashioned customer service.
“I grew up with an aunt who worked in high-end clothing stores, and so when I would go into her clothing store, I was greeted and my clothes were taken into a fitting room that was reserved for me,” Cousin said. “Then they would come and ask, ‘How are you doing?’ And, this is how the ladies here treat me. They don’t treat me like a bargain shopper but like I’m a high-end shopper.”
The store stocks apparel from designers such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors, Laughlin said. At least half the customers don’t know that their purchases help to provide meals and employment services to homeless Placer County residents, Laughlin said, and she enjoys being able to educate them about a nonprofit that she and her children have supported for years.