Part 2: The Interview. Shopping with a Purpose at ATL Community Thrift w/ Shaundra Battle.

In spite of everything taking place surrounding COVID-19 here’s a bit of encouragement for ya: Positive things are still happening in the world! I was thrilled at the news of someone in my circle of friends tackling a new venture during this time, and I could not be more excited that it was the opening of a thrift store to which she was a part of. Not to mention, I looked forward to the occasion to leave behind all my Mommy To-Do’s and attend the grand opening.

After having such a pleasurable shopping experience, I had to sit down with Shaundra, the Marketing and Logistics Director of ATL Community Thrift to share that experience (click here to read about that ) and to interview her on the opening of the thrift store.

Check it out!

Shaundra, tell us a little about your job description.

I input and organize everyone’s information (staff and employees) in the various systems we use for our store. I have to ensure that we are on top of our legal responsibilities as well. All of the pickups and donations, I also schedule. As far as the marketing aspect of my job, I take care of updating all our social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. At the moment we’re working with a company that’s helping us with Google ads. Along with taking care of the background stuff, I do a little bit of everything.

Congratulations on the grand opening! I was in my own little world as I freely went browsing through the aisles with my doughnut before the big crowd came in! How was the opening from your perspective?

Once we opened everything went very well. We had a couple of hiccups but, that is to be expected with anything that’s brand new— kind of learning on the fly. The turnout was right on target. One of the things that we really wanted to do was open up on the weekend of the Fourth of July. We figured more people would be home and weren’t going to be traveling as much this summer as a result of the current health pandemic. Our goal was met and that was a great feeling.

How did ATL Community Thrift come into existence?

It was literally just an idea that someone tossed out. One of our regular donors suggested that Young Life, our nonprofit, consider another revenue of income in the event of an economic downturn. He said, “When money starts to change the first thing that tends to fall off is philanthropic work. People are going to slow up or stop giving because they now feel the need to keep their money stored away.” We needed to figure something out should people’s traditional way of giving and donating change. From that idea it has been a year in the making.

For the past year what has the process been like for you?

It was the journey of finding the right location. Heavily considering if we wanted to plant in the location of where our nonprofit serves or move outside of that area. Even in finding the right location we had to make sure it was zoned properly. Funny story about that: our initial location was lovely! It was an old Piccadilly. Technically it wasn’t zoned to be a thrift store and we spent a little bit of money amending the structure of the building not knowing that you can’t do that until you get your permits and so forth! We were like, “Oooooh, okay!” Lesson learned!

No refunds, huh?

(Laughing) None! Once we found the second location we had learned a few things from our first go ’round, and along with that we had to consider the comps for that area: demographics, income, competitors, churches, etc. Hiring the right team of people! Very lengthy process at times.

As the Marketing and Logistics Director, what has been your individual experience in opening this thrift store?

My experience has been delightful! very eye-opening! My job title says to me, “this is your lane.” In the past I struggled with delegating different tasks to people and trusting them to complete it. Now, I understand that everybody has a role, and this (marketing and logistics) is my role, and that has made this a great experience for me. This has permeated through so many areas of my life—being able to say to people, “This task is for you. I’m gonna do my job. Are you gonna do yours? Okay. Now let’s circle back at the end of the week!”

Many people don’t know about the nonprofit that is behind ATL Community Thrift. What is YoungLife?

YoungLife is a non profit Christian organization that works with adolescents in the hopes of introducing them to Christ and helping them to grow in the Christian faith; specifically, in the YoungLife Atlanta area we also want to set them up to thrive and be (become) successful citizens by focusing on taking them from a life of poverty to a life of prosperity. This is first done upon our introduction to the students in the schools we are partnered with. When we first meet the students, we ask them one question: If you were to have kids, would you want your kids to grow up the exact same way that you are growing up?

Wow! That is a powerful question!

Exactly! My boss, Genaro [aka “G”] was the first person I heard ask that question. And 10 times out of 10 not a single hand goes up! Then we ask them what they are doing right now to make sure that doesn’t happen. After that, we begin walking with them to develop that plan. Starting with graduating from high school. Graduating free from addiction. Without a record. Without having kids (if possible). If they already have kids, we want them to graduate without having any more kids.

On the ATL Community Thrift website it states that 100% of the net proceeds go to support YoungLife Atlanta. The hope is that these proceeds will help to fund…

The different activities we have. Like, Club. Which is the big activity that happens in the schools that involves food, games, and tons of interactive ways of presenting the gospel message to our students. Also, Camp. We take the kids to camp every summer. There is a middle school camp, a high school camp, and camp for teen moms. Camp typically costs a lot of money, and the kids we service sometimes can’t afford it, but we chop down the cost by fundraising so that the kids are only paying a small portion of that cost. There are also different extensions of YoungLife: WyldLife Middle School. YoungLife High School. CollegeLife, and YoungLives for teen moms. The proceeds from the store will go towards funding all of those areas.

When you talk about the proceeds from the thrift store going into funding YoungLife, it really is the definition of ‘shopping with a purpose.’

I love that idea. People are going to shop anyway, so if you know an item you purchase at our thrift store is going to help fund an activity for a student on YoungLife that, by the way, has the ability to be impactful in that kid’s life, hey! why not?

What can customers expect to find at ATL Community Thrift.

E-vuh-rey-thing! (Everything). Shoes, clothes, accessories, home and office furniture. Luggage. Bikes. Handcrafted items. Electronics. We had someone to purchase a VCR on opening day.

What is the most interesting thing that you all have sold since opening? A Nambé Bowl. Have you ever heard of that?

Uh, no. A Nambé Bowl? What is it?

Actually, I didn’t know what it was myself, but I learned something new when a customer came in the store and purchased it. It’s a type of serveware made by this company. They sell their items mostly in high-end stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Van Mauer. It’s also in museums!

Were you surprised at the overwhelming amount of donations that you all received? YES! People call every day to schedule pickups. I think I scheduled 3 pickups just today.

How do you all keep the storage room from becoming overrun with items so that you can actually sort through the donations and get quality items?

All of our donations are on trailers, and we’ll sort through one trailer at a time. If we are looking for something specific, we’ll bring out what we need. Apparently, our TV’s were priced so well that we sold them all over the weekend! Now we are looking for more TV’s to put out on the floor. Sometimes we receive things that are obviously trash and broken which makes it easier to discard.

I think people sometimes intentionally give away trash. (Laughing). Some people do use us as their personal trash service.

Have you shopped at the thrift store yourself? YES!

What did you get?! I purchased a few pairs of earrings.

Are you going to be that employee spending your paycheck back into the company?

No! No! No! I’m trying not to. I have to keep myself on a leash. Knowing me, I’ll end up buying back the stuff that I really didn’t want to give away. I’m not going to let myself buy too much.

What makes you the most proud about ATL Community Thrift?

Our mission–you can’t beat it with a stick. We do what we say we are going to do. Growing up I always heard “word is my bond” and for me it was like, what does that even mean? But to be a part of an organization that I helped to build from the ground up I know we can truly say “our word is our bond”. This [the mission statement] isn’t just something we painted on the wall; it is the whole driving force behind why we do what we do. It’s the reason I (we) get up in the mornings and put on our uniform, and do our marketing, and make phone calls, and make fliers. Knowing that what we are doing is going to make a difference in the life of one child. That’s what makes me proud of ATL Community Thrift.

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My interview with Shaundra was such a joy 🙂 . There was so much laughter and animation in our conversation. The things that I learned while speaking with her gave new meaning to being a patron of their store. Turns out I wasn’t just escaping my Mommy To-Do list to go thrifting, but unbeknownst to me I was shopping with a purpose!

You can ‘Shop With A Purpose’ too! Just STAY CONNECTED.

Visit the store at: 1355 East-West Connector Suite 415, Austell, Ga. 30106 (Don’t forget to mention that you read the interview on the blog).

Donate. Drop Off locations:

Store: 1355 East-West Connector Suite 415, Austell, Ga. 30106

Donation POD:

Hours of Operation: Tues- Sat 11am- 6pm.

North Creek Office Park. (Right behind Church Of The Apostles). 3715 Northside Parkway Atlanta, Ga. 30327

Email: donations@atl-ct.com to schedule pickups for items that cannot fit in personal vehicles.

Website: atlcommunitythrift.com

Follow US!

ATL Community Thrift: Intsagram: @atlcommunitythrift

Twitter: atlcommthrift

Shaundra Battle: Instagram @SQbattle or Facebook/SQbattle

YoungLife: Instagram @ylatlanta_tv

Dont forget to share, and like this post!

PEACE

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