A boutique resale shop that will provide a future income stream to support clients of Domestic Violence Services of Benton & Franklin Counties is set to open in Kennewick, wrapping up a lofty project for the most recent class of Leadership Tri-Cities.
Mariposa, located next door to the Washington State Department of Licensing at 3311 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick, is conveniently behind the DVS offices. The shop is intentionally not being called a “thrift store” and aims to offer only curated, higher end items, filling a void in the market following the March closure of the Seattle Children’s Kennewick Bargain Boutique.
“We really want to give the customers and clients a wonderful shopping experience. The customers will be supporting our clients with their purchases and then also with their donations of goods to the store,” said Diana Izaguirre, development director for DVS.
The nonprofit had dreams of opening the shop to make use of quality donations it acquired and provide a space for clients to receive basic necessities and household goods since many affected by domestic violence escape their current living situation with few possessions.
Each Leadership Tri-Cities class chooses a group project that benefits the community, and the 26th LTC class chose the DVS project to help bring the retail dream to fruition.
“Everyone in the class was asked to find nonprofits that need help, and we came back with about six of them,” said Meeghan Tripp, a member of LTC Class 26, who is acting construction chair for the group. “We all talked about different options and voted, resulting in a three-way tie before this project was picked. Since then, the scope of the work increased to where it became the largest project undertaken by any class.”
LTC’s mission includes developing diverse leaders to drive positive change in the community, and during a 10-month period, class members increase their understanding on a wide range of topics connected to the Tri-Cities, learning law and justice, human needs and services, agriculture, education and more. Sessions culminate with a class project that makes an impact on a local nonprofit.
Previous beneficiaries include Therapeutic Riding of Tri-Cities, Tri-City Union Gospel Mission and Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition.
Domestic violence awareness is a cause near and dear to Jenna Kochenauer, a member of the current LTC class and a recurring donor to DVS.
“I was hoping to do a Tri-Cities-wide domestic violence awareness campaign similar to the way breast cancer awareness brings all the pink to October. ... DVS has become my passion. I didn’t want to impose my passion on other people but when this was picked by the class, I was so happy,” Kochenauer said.
LTC Class 26 is the first since the pandemic sidelined the program. Each of the 21 class members is expected to contribute 20 hours to the DVS project, though Tripp said she’s easily hit four times that amount.
“I was way over my hours before the store even really started. We held a fundraising fashion show at the Uptown Theatre called Fashion for Compassion, which raised over $50,000 for DVS, the most any class singularly raised,” she said.
The LTC group repainted the 3,000-square-foot store, built a wall and storage closet, added a front counter, coordinated electrical work for a washer and dryer, rehabbed the restroom and installed privacy film on the windows.
Once home to a yarn store, the space has received a real “glow up,” which complements the name of the shop – not only is “mariposa” the Spanish word for butterfly, it fits a quote credited to an English proverb that may resonate with DVS clients: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
“We see the name as a bridge between the cultures and to be inclusive,” Izaguirre said.
Painted murals will also brighten the walls.
Items available at Mariposa will be intentionally stocked and not all donations will be used. Those that don’t meet quality standards come at a cost to dispose of, so the nonprofit will need to be more selective at the front end.
“They don’t want to accept any donations that their clients wouldn’t want,” Tripp said. “If I just came out of a domestic violence situation, I would want something that felt nice to own.”
Once LTC volunteers completed their work on the shop, the clock began ticking to sort donations and get the doors open for the grand opening planned for June 2.
DVS already had a growing stockpile of donations stored in its administrative office in anticipation of launching a store, and when the suite came available behind the office, it provided the perfect spot logistically.
The nonprofit took possession of the space last fall and used the winter to line up a business license and other operational needs before actual labor on the shop could begin.
During that time, DVS staff learned of the closure of Atomic City Thrift in Richland, and the owner donated everything on an “all or nothing” basis.
“We had to clear out the building, and we took some of the pieces, like clothing racks,” Izaguirre said. “It was a very eye-opening experience to know what to expect before we could get this place ready for LTC to come and paint. Then, we had to figure out how we were going to run the store because most of our staff doesn’t have retail experience.”
A separate thrift store closure also benefited Mariposa when Seattle Children’s Hospital opted out of its lease renewal and closed the Kennewick Bargain Boutique.
“Their volunteers and customers have been coming in and helping us and kind of lift us up,” Izaguirre said.
“I planned on being (at the Bargain Boutique) until I retired,” said Lyn Shea, a former employee. “Now, there’s just such a hole and there’s no other ‘nice’ thrift store, so I’m hoping when we open the doors officially, we will start to get a lot of traffic in here. I expect a lot of my former customers will be able to come here and donate here, so there’s huge potential.”
At the start, Mariposa will be run by volunteers but expects to hire at least one staff member once funding is in place.
“We’re already short-staffed at DVS and our funding is for direct programs so it would be too much to add this to our plate,” Izaguirre said. “We want to make sure someone is dedicated to the store, and it runs properly; but the rest can be volunteers, whether it’s new job training or job skills besides community volunteers.
DVS is in its 20th year of operation and serves about 3,000 people annually, including children. It’s bringing back its fundraising gala this fall for the first time since the pandemic to support its recurring programs and growing needs. Go to: dvsbf.org.
To learn more about Leadership Tri-Cities, go to: https://leadershiptricities.com. The deadline to submit an application for the next class is May 15.
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