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Plaid Door Resale Boutique manager Debbie Chanel also is a customer. The outfit she is wearing came entirely from the store's merchandise. Plaid Door is a fundraiser for Junior League of Springfield.
Plaid Door Resale Boutique manager Debbie Chanel also is a customer. The outfit she is wearing came entirely from the store's merchandise. Plaid Door is a fundraiser for Junior League of Springfield.

Business Spotlight: Retail with a Purpose

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Plaid Door Resale Boutique is more than just a high-end resale store. It’s retail sales with a purpose, its manager says.

Opened in 1976 on Commercial Street, the store has raised more than $2 million for the community as the signature fundraiser for Junior League of Springfield, says Lynn Tynes, JLS president.

Funds raised allow the Junior League, now in its 51st year in Springfield, to contribute to causes in the community such as Isabel’s House, which provides refuge for children ages birth to 12 whose families are in crisis, says Debbie Chanel, Plaid Door store manager.

All proceeds go to various community efforts, and Isabel’s House is JLS’ signature project, Tynes says.

“We are a service. It’s a different kind of retail,” says Chanel, who has worked in retail about 20 years, including time as owner of a bridal shop in Chicago. “It’s something that I’ve never been involved in, to (have) a greater purpose than somebody’s corporate profit.”

Plaid Door revenue in fiscal 2010, which ended June 30, was $300,000, but Chanel said she hopes a recent expansion to 5,000 square feet and remodeling efforts will help increase fiscal 2011 revenue by 20 percent.

“The potential is there. The leadership and marketing teams in place have done some fantastic things to reach that goal,” says Chanel, who moved to Springfield to care for her sister, a recovering cancer patient.

A print advertising campaign and e-mail blasts to about 1,800 recipients are in process. Tynes says the $360,000 annual revenue goal is a team decision made by the JLS finance council.
“The finance council works closely with Plaid Door,” Tynes says. “The more we raise through Plaid Door, the more we can give back to the community.”

Chanel set a goal of improving customer service when she took over a little more than a year ago. She encourages her staff of five to be stylists for customers.

“That’s what sets us apart from others,” she says. “We can’t be a Macy’s or a Dillard’s. But the beauty of that is we have equal merchandise for far less but we also have the customer service they would provide.”

The customer base, like the store, continues to evolve.

“It used to be a lot of elderly, and we still get them in, but now what we see is more working women who need that wardrobe but don’t have that expendable money to supply that wardrobe,” Chanel says.

Most of the store’s inventory is women’s clothes, but children’s and men’s clothing also is sold. For instance, a handful of gently used Armani ties are available for around $15 each, and a Cartier watch given by a donor recently showed up for sale and was sold for $850, Chanel says.

Nothing donated to Plaid Door goes unused.

Recently tightened quality controls determine what will and won’t be sold. But items that don’t make it to the sales floor still find a use.

Examples include donating children’s clothing to the PTA Clothes Bank, provided by the Springfield Council of PTAs to the entire Springfield Public Schools district, and donating towels and blankets to the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, Chanel said.

“Our primary goal for this year is to keep Plaid Door functioning and to keep raising funds for Junior League of Springfield,” says Elizabeth Byrd, Plaid Door chairwoman.

Other JLS benefactors include Boys & Girls Club and the Family Violence Center, Chanel says.

JLS of Springfield reported $1.5 million in assets and $401,503 in revenue, of which $265,036 came from Plaid Door sales, according to the 990 form filed by JLS for fiscal 2009.[[In-content Ad]]

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