[Below is a transcription of the podcast]
Cheri Landin: Welcome to The Mortgage Company’s Community Partner Podcast Series. My name is Cheri Landin and I am the Community Development Director here and one of the pleasures of this role that I have is getting to interview some of our community partners and learn a little bit more about who they are and bring this information out to those in our contact circle. So I am here with Sue Hosier. Hi Sue.
Sue Hosier: Hi.
Cheri Landin: Sue from Angel Concept so welcome.
Sue Hosier: Thank you and thank you for inviting us.
Cheri Landin: Of course. So let’s start. Tell me what is Angel Concept.
Sue Hosier: Angel Concept looks like a lovely boutique. We are in old town Littleton right next door to Penzys. And we opened six years ago. We are a nonprofit job training program for women. You walk in and we have all kinds of wonderful gifts and things for you. You would never know that our mission is to help people get back to work.
Cheri Landin: Ok so you said it’s a job trading program?
Sue Hosier: Training.
Cheri Landin: Training. OK so. All right. So tell me a little bit more about that so who is it that you’re employing, is that right?
Sue Hosier: We hire women who are referred to us from their social workers, their halfway house, their counselors their probation officers. They are all women who have not worked for quite a while for various reasons and have been through very difficult times. We do an interview with them and them we hire them and pay them to work in the store as staff for three to four months. We have a whole program worked out with them so that they are doing and learning and accomplishing tasks at our training program while they’re servicing the customers and working in the store.
Cheri Landin: Alright so is this all of your employees come this way?
Sue Hosier: All our paid employees except for the manager are trainees. The rest of our staff is volunteer.
Cheri Landin: That’s wonderful. That’s great. The program is typically, you said, three to four months?
Sue Hosier: Yes.
Cheri Landin: And then they have a nice skillset.
Sue Hosier: Right. Well we thought we were going to teach everybody how to work. But we found that usually women who have been through such difficult times, often their problem is they don’t know how to work. They have no self-esteem left, at all, and that’s usually what we give them back. We do teach them job skills but when they come to us they really don’t have any self-esteem. By the time they leave, after three or four months, they think they can do what they need to do.
Cheri Landin: That’s wonderful. So where then did this concept, Angel Concept, where did this concept come from and how are you connected with it.
Sue Hosier: Well I’m the founder. There Was a group of friends and I who live up in the foothills, who decided that instead of being retired we could do something useful and help somebody else. And so that was our mission. And we opened six years ago and we decided none of us really worked retail. But we decided we weren’t stupid and we could make a difference in somebody’s life and we did.
Cheri Landin: That’s great. So I guess tell me a little bit about the structure of them. So you hire them and you pay the women that you bring in to work. Where did your things come from. And you know when you make sales I think there’s some other beneficiaries of this so. Can you talk about that a little?
Sue Hosier: The first floor of the store is all new goods. The goods are bought like any store would buy them. We buy them wholesale, we sell them retail. We had to learn a lot about wholesale and retail and what we were doing. And where you go to find the things in how you do it and how you do barcoding and how you tag things into how you do inventory. And we all learned all this so that we can teach somebody else because these are basic skills. If you’re going to do retail you need to know. We have a training program for the women who come in and we teach them really everything. They learned how to greet the customers. They learned how to work the cash register. They learned how to decorate the store and they know how how to display product and how to sell and help people with their things. So they we really do learn a trade, we want him to go and be somebody who’s best employee when they leave so awesome. The downstairs of the store is donated goods from people who want to help us. They bring us really nice things. They bring us beautiful clothing and they bring us home accessories and they bring us jewelry. So there’s all kinds of nice things down there. We were encouraged not to do that and we found that a lot of people like that part of the store because the store isn’t super expensive but if you’re at a really tight budget you can find a whole outfit downstairs for under ten dollars.
Cheri Landin: Wow. So that’s wonderful. And that’s all donated you said.
Sue Hosier: That’s all donated. The Upstairs is all bought by the store for the store. We do have our rent to pay. So the sale of the goods goes to paying our rent and the trainees and the manager. That’s it. Except for 5% which we pull right off the top and it gets donated to a non-profit. We have a list of I think it’s nine nonprofits on our list right now. And the person who’s shopping gets to pick. Now if they pick something that was donated, we give 10% because we have no cost involved in that and we have given 5% since the day we opened when we couldn’t make our bills. We’ve always given the 5 percent and we will continue to do so because we feel that if all the nonprofits work together to help each other we’re all going to do better.
Cheri Landin: Absolutely. So that’s interesting. So I’m a consumer. I come to your store and I purchase something and you’re gonna show me this list of nine and say based on these sales, which one do you want to go to.
Sue Hosier: Yes. Then we give 5% of their purchase price, it doesn’t cost them anything we give it right.
Cheri Landin: Right. Understood.
Sue Hosier: Because a lot of people think we’re adding 5 percent on to their purchase.
Cheri Landin: But you know a lot of people you know I I tend to believe and think that most people have that philanthropic piece or just you know wanting to be community help. So many places that you may perhaps donate to, you really don’t know. I mean of course there’s overhead, you have a retail shop that you have to keep in operation and whatnot. But you know above and beyond that, when people make donations they don’t really know where it’s going. So I think that’s really interesting that you can say hey I have a passion for this and all of those organizations are local and women focused.
Sue Hosier: They’re all, our 501c3 nonprofit is based on helping women and so they all are agencies that help women. Some of them help women and children or families. But they all help women. And so that way we give 5% to somebody else who’s also helping women.
Cheri Landin: Well it sounds like a really wonderful store. I can’t wait to come and see it. I haven’t been there yet. So the community, you look for help from the community I’m guessing in multiple ways.
Sue Hosier: We have about 30 volunteers right now. They staff our store six to seven days a week. They assist our trainees and they get a lot out of watching them. They watch them grow from the day they come in and they’re scared to death to the day they go out that door and they have a job. And it makes you feel really good that you’ve spent your time helping somebody else get to a point where they can take care of themselves.
Cheri Landin: Well doesn’t that make for just a better community.
Sue Hosier: Oh sure.
Cheri Landin: Right. So that makes complete sense to me.
Sue Hosier: Well we all believe, those of us at the store, that if you can take care of yourself, you’re way better off than if you need everybody to take care of you. So we’re trying to help them be able to do that.
Cheri Landin: OK so volunteers are you always in need of volunteers?
Sue Hosier: We always need volunteers. We’re just coming up to a really busy season so we can use extra volunteers. Were grateful. Some volunteers come in every week, the same slot. Some volunteers like to fill in when somebody else goes on vacation. Some people like to do special events which we just had about 800 children come to the store on Sunday for trick or treat. And the volunteers all dressed up they looked darling. They did a great job. Some volunteers to do more behind the scenes work. We have a whole crew that likes to straighten out our basement so we can find things. They like doing it. Thank goodness they like doing it.
Cheri Landin: Some people are good organizers, some are not. Right. Alright. So there’s a different volunteer opportunities. It sounds like.
Sue Hosier: Oh yes.
Cheri Landin: OK. What about, how else can the community help. Well they can come do their holiday shopping with us. We’re Downtown Old Town Littleton gets better at the holidays because they light up all the trees. It looks beautiful. There are wagon rides from the Melting Pot. They go around all the time and you can do shopping there, we have children stuff, we have women’s clothing, we have all kinds of accessories for your home, we have a beautiful costume jewelry and lots of books and you can find something for almost anybody in the store and we’ll gift wrap it for free.
Cheri Landin: Oh that’s another volunteer opportunity.
Sue Hosier: Yes! If you like wrapping, there you go.
Cheri Landin: Alright. That’s great. So you said it’s your busy season. Are there any particular special events that you’d like people to be aware of coming up.
Sue Hosier: Well we have the tree lighting the day after Thanksgiving. Santa comes down the street and they light all the trees and he’s waving and it starts about 6:00 o’clock depending on what part of the street you’re at and we’re very busy then. And then the day after that, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday. And it’s a day to go out and support your local small businesses so that we all do better because it’s pretty hard competing with Amazon.
Cheri Landin: Oh I’m certain. But You know I think that people just, it’s just all about awareness too. And learning who you are, why you exist. You have a purpose clearly that I think would probably resonate with a lot of people so I think it’s just a good thing to get get the word out if you will.
Sue Hosier: It took us a long time. In the beginning everybody was new every single day and now people walk in and say, “You’re our favorite store.” It makes us so happy because people finally know that when they shop with us they’re doing more than just buying a gift for somebody or buying themselves something, they’re helping somebody else. They’re ususally helping several somebody else because you’re helping the employee that we’ve employed, you’re helping the nonprofit that you’re giving 5% to, and a lot of our goods are bought from agencies that also help other people.
Cheri Landin: Chain reaction. In a good way. Well that’s wonderful Sue. Give me the address of Angel Concept if someone is listening and wants to stop by the store and I know they can Google it but let’s throw the address out there.
Sue Hosier: 2510 Main Street in Littleton. We’re almost at the corner of Maine and Nevada.
Cheri Landin: It is. It’s a great little neighborhood. It’s super cute. They can go in there and shop and there’s great little restaurants too.
Sue Hosier: Oh yeah.
Cheri Landin: Right. So. All right. Well I appreciate you sharing everything about your store. I think it’s a wonderful place and like I said I can’t wait to come and visit.
Sue Hosier: Well thank you very much and come join us, help us, volunteer, donate goods, donate money if you want to make a holiday donation to something that’s not using the money we get to send out mailings. We don’t do mailings. People come in and help.
Cheri Landin: Wonderful. Alright. Well I appreciate your time. Best of luck.
Sue Hosier: Thank you for having us.