Hard goods, including housewares, knickknacks, decorative items, sporting goods, books and more, have been moved into the new space at New Hope Bargain Shoppe.
Hard goods, including housewares, knickknacks, decorative items, sporting goods, books and more, have been moved into the new space at New Hope Bargain Shoppe.

May 24, 2018

Recognizing customers’ hunger for enhanced shopping experience and presented with the space opportunity, New Hope has gone supersize with its Bargain Shoppe in Carroll.

The Bargain Shoppe recently was doubled in size, allowing the store to significantly increase merchandise on the sales floor and better display it.

The expansion has been paying off all around.

For shoppers, they appreciate the bigger selection and the products’ improved display. And, the prices are still right. They say they’re finding terrific bargains on high-quality merchandise.

For New Hope, the bigger store has boosted sales, generating more funds for fulfilling its mission of enriching the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

For volunteers, the bigger operation means there’s more opportunity to help. New Hope counts 197 active volunteers in the Carroll Bargain Shoppe, and they average more than 1,000 hours monthly.

And for the community, increased traffic to the Bargain Shoppe may produce a ripple effect for restaurants and other retail stores.

The space to expand the store became available when federal regulations forced closure of New Hope Enterprises, which was housed in the same building, next to the Bargain Shoppe.

New Hope Enterprises and the Bargain Shoppe had moved into this building, a former discount grocery store at 823 Plaza Drive, in 2011. However, the Federal Home and Community Based Services Rule issued in 2014 required providers of work services to clients with disabilities to offer those in an integrated-population setting.

“That meant our center-based work services at New Hope Enterprises were not meeting the setting rules,” explained New Hope Executive Director Rhonda Mart. “Over the last several years our staff has worked very, very hard to transition those individuals to replacement settings.

“Our priority would have been community employment if the individual was interested in that. If they did not choose community employment, many chose day-habilitation service, which is offered at our Clark Street location.”

Clients employed at New Hope Enterprises did much packaging for various companies to ship products.

With New Hope Enterprises phased out, the challenge became what to do with that space.

“It created a wonderful opportunity,” said Mart. “Here we are able to expand our store and provide additional revenue for New Hope, which is so needed in this constrained Medicaid environment, and additional employment for the individuals we support.”

Actually, said Jodie Jansen, New Hope director of development, the Bargain Shoppe expansion was a natural.

“Carroll and all the surrounding communities do fabulous with their donations to our business, which has allowed us to expand,” she said.

“Instead of having things basically in storage, we’re going to be able to process it faster, get it out on the floor and move it a lot quicker. So the shopping experience should be enhanced. Customers will continue to see new things every day. There are always new things out of the floor daily.”

The Bargain Shoppe offers an array of merchandise: clothes for infants to adults, furniture, housewares, books, sporting goods, tools, knickknacks, seasonal decorations, and much more.

“It’s everything you can think of, vintage, hard-to-find items, collectibles, brand-new items still in the packages,” said Cindy Beck, manager of retail operations for New Hope, which also has Bargain Shoppes in Coon Rapids, Jefferson, Manning and Perry.

Some items not accepted are mattresses, large appliances, TVs and computers.

Shoppers have responded to the new improvement. Beck said sales increased about 8 percent the first two weeks after the expanded-store operation began the first of May, putting them on target for the 15 to 20 percent growth she hopes to see.

Store manager Sandy Rohe said, “Sales are better. Everything now is more spread out so people don’t have to dig around and look for stuff. It’s going a lot better. You can move around a lot better.”

One of the customers on a recent afternoon, Donna Ware of Marshalltown, said she frequently stops at the Bargain Shoppe when she and her husband visit their daughter, her husband, and their two grandchildren in Carroll.

“I was so excited to see (the new space) open up, and there’s a lot more stuff in there,” Ware said. “This place is very nice. They do a nice job here, and the people are very helpful.”

Ware said she finds a lot of good-quality merchandise and a wide selection.

“Everything is all well-marked, nicely displayed and organized,” she added.

Janis Berger of Carroll said she was eager to see the expansion and commented, “You’re always anticipating to see what it’s going to look like, and it was well worth the wait. There’s more room, things are more spread out. They did a wonderful job.

“I think they’re getting more (merchandise) out of the back room faster. It’s displayed much nicer, and prices are staying the same, so that’s a good thing, too.”

Berger said she makes the Bargain Shoppe the first place she goes to do a lot of her shopping.

“You can find something old, new or in-between,” she said, adding “When my kids and grandkids come here from out of town they have to shop here. One daughter loves antique jewelry. She’s always at the jewelry counter. ... She likes anything retro, and this is a place to find it.”

Reconstruction to create the new space was done by New Hope’s maintenance staff. The store space and processing area have grown from about 12,500 square feet to 25,000 square feet. The clothing and furniture remain in the original Bargain Shoppe space, and hard goods were moved into the expansion area.

“Some customers come here daily because they recognize new merchandise is out,” Mart said.

Beck said some customers even make a day of visiting all five New Hope Bargain Shoppes.

“We’re a destination,” Mart said.

And the stores’ success is vital to New Hope.

“The revenue from these stores is so important to us to help meet our operation expenses that Medicaid is no longer covering,” Mart said. “It’s so important to our viability.”

Jansen said, “When you’re donating and shopping here, it’s local. You know that you’re helping both by your donations and shopping. It stays local, and you’re enriching the lives of individuals with disabilities.”

In addition to the sales-floor expansion, the building’s remake entailed other changes.

The area where donations are received, processed and price-marked has been doubled in size as well.

The volume of donations that this store receives continues to grow,” Mart said.

The break room for employees (there are currently four full time and 10 part time) and volunteers also has been expanded and improved.

Retired nurse Shirley Tomka, of Arcadia, who stopped in the break room for a bottle of water on a recent afternoon, raved about her experience since she began as a Bargain Shoppe volunteer in January.

“I was a nurse for 40 some years, now I work here,” she said. “I love every hour that I work here. I’ve felt so welcomed from the first minute. Everybody has been so nice, and it’s fun to meet new people. And I’m amazed at the good shoppers in the area.”

“You hear the coolest stories at the register,” she added.

She’s visited with doll collectors, people starting child care centers, mothers and grandmothers buying clothes for kids, and many more customers from all walks of life — “I’ve seen bankers’ wives, I’ve seen nurses I nursed with for years,” she said.

Jansen said more volunteers are now needed, and she said helping in the store together is a good way to form friendships.

“(Volunteers) can come as a group, or they can come individually,” she said.

Another change in the building also is generating more revenue for New Hope.

Beginning a year ago, a back-room area is now used for a textile program, where clothes and some other items that don’t sell in the store are baled and sold to a company that makes them available in impoverished countries around the world. About 97 percent of those items are put to use elsewhere, and textiles not suitable for baling are cut into cleaning rags.

“So now we’re receiving an income in this textile-recycling program, and keeping (the clothes) out of the landfill,” Jansen said.

One more phase of the building’s remake remains to be completed.

A coffee shop and book nook are being created at the front of the expansion area. The space will be lined with shelves of books and equipped with tables, chairs and other furnishings. There will also be a laptops charging station. The coffee shop menu has not been set, but Beck said it may include baked goods and a light lunch.