A new store in Independence has the parallel aims of selling goods, turning a profit, solving a problem for another local business and helping a local non-profit.
“This is a retail e-commerce store,” said Bill Preston, who has worked with others to organize the Second Chance Store, which opened recently at 11415 E. 23rd St.. That’s east of Sterling Avenue, near the Kansas City Public Library.
He and former Independence Mayor Don Reimal walked through the store’s brief history last week after a ribbon cutting.
“Second Chance was his idea,” Preston said.
Reimal has come to know Coolio Xu, president of Unidor, a nearly three-year old company in one of the underground spaces in eastern Independence. It’s a fulfillment center for e-commerce companies, sending goods across the country and parts of Canada.
Problem: Customers send stuff back. Some products are overstocked. It’s not worth it to send it back to where it was made overseas. It piles up.
“This stuff was eating up 25 percent of their space,” Preston said.
Xu adds that it’s a headache for his clients. They often end up ordering that merchandise – still new – be destroyed.
Add this: Preston has experience with local non-profits and knows they always are pressed for funds. Was there a solution in all of this?
The idea they hit upon was a store to sell the items, mostly clothing and electronics, deeply discounted, somewhere between 25 and 90 percent off. Reimal, who has been helping with unpacking and marking items recently, said, “We’re going to make it cheap enough that eventually it will sell.”
Profits are to be split equally four ways: back into store operations, to Unidor, to Preston’s management company, and to the Child Abuse Prevention Association, the Independence group designated as Second Chance’s lead non-profit. There is an independent oversight board to review operations as well.
Other non-profits can benefit, too. Their volunteers can work a few shifts to generate revenue. There’s also a rewards program. Supporters of a non-profit can bring in a flier, and some of the revenue from their purchases will be directed to that group.
The retail space itself, 20,000 square feet with room to grow, is in a section of 23rd Street with several vibrant businesses but also a few empty spaces.
“This building needed a second chance, needed new life,” Preston said.
The organizers said they weren’t aware of others trying this e-commerce-to-brick-and-mortar approach but said they have high hopes.
“This is a good way,” Xu said.