One of the projects that was presented to me when I first arrived, was to help with the development of a “Thrift Store or Second-Hand Store”. One of Cheshire Home’s missions is to help those with disabilities establish independent living and employment. Through the Malaysian Government, if one whom has a disability and can provide documentation that they are employed they will receive an additional 300rm (which is about $100) government grant a month. So the main objective for the development of this store is to employ someone who has a disability so that can gain income, live independently and achieve government grants.
At first glance the store looked like a storage closest and I had no idea where to start, nor was I familiar on how to begin the development up a business. The original floor plan was to have two rooms of clothing, a room of toys, a book room, a show room/ checkout area, a couple of storage rooms and a workshop. Back in October, I decided to pick a room and start organizing one thing at a time. I helped create flyers for donations, put together a press release for the paper and posted messages on our FB page. Another step was to find employees for the store, our first set of interviews were held in November, and unfortunately we were unable to find someone eligible for the position. After that, things slowed down, the holidays hit and the development of the store got put to the side. Then in January we had a big rainstorm and the store flooded, some furniture had to be thrown out, clothes had to be rewashed and any kind of organization that was started had to be moved out.
It was a challenge to get everyone motivated again (even myself), as we were afraid another storm would hit and another flood would happen. But after the New Year and the Chinese New Year died down, I reached out to a Cheshire Home committee member and a personal friend. She had already known about the “Thrift Store” as it has been a working progress for the past four years, but she listened to my challenges and my ideas. So we decided to work together and brainstorm on a new plan.
First impressions are always big, so we started there – ‘what was our first impression’ and ‘what should be the first impression’. After discussion we knew we needed to upgrade. We decided to start by creating a more welcoming and appealing look to the store. We explored ideas for a showroom, themed rooms, and soon we became interior designers through Google images. The idea was fun, fancy and something new, but the thought dawned on us…would it get approved by the staff and committee. Our first step was to put together a proposal for a remodeling project of the ‘store’. We included, of course, the “five ‘Ws and the ‘how are you going to get the money for this’ and the look and feel of the new layout. I presented the proposal to my supervisor in early February and received an approval.
During these last couple of weeks we have found sponsorships, painted the rooms and added new flooring. This past week many of us have been working hard on cleaning and organizing. On Saturday there will be a committee meeting held at the office and the plan is to showcase the new design and the progress of the store. The project has been hard work and there are still many things that need be done, but to finally see progress has become a true reward. We are hoping to have our grand opening in the beginning of April 2012.