‘Thrifty’ locals raise charity money

Kate Bigam

Students looking for bargains around Kent can save pennies while helping a local charity.

Kent’s Fabulous Finds thrift outlet store re-opened last week after a two-month hiatus. A portion of proceeds from all sales at both the Kent store and Fabulous Finds’ Streetsboro location is donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Portage County.

Ron Kilchenman, associate director of the non-profit Big Brothers Big Sisters, said the two groups formed a partnership three years ago when Fabulous Finds owners Tammy and Ron McGee proposed the idea.

“We wanted to help out a local charity in the community instead of (some place) like the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Tammy McGee said. “They help, but not directly in our community like Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

Tammy McGee would not disclose what percentage of the stores’ proceeds are donated to charity, but Kilchenman said on average Fabulous Finds donates about $17,000 per year to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We’re thrilled with that,” Kilchenman said.

All money goes to support Big Brothers Big Sisters one-to-one youth mentoring program, which partners adult volunteers with local children in an effort to provide positive role models to Portage County youth, Kilchenman said. Fabulous Finds’ donations fund everything from volunteers’ background checks to summer picnics with the kids.

The Kent Fabulous Finds store, located on state Route 59 across from AMF Twin Star bowling lanes, used to be open seven days a week, but Tammy McGee said its hours have been reduced to Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The majority of their sales were occurring on (those days), so they figured out they could still make money for Big Brothers Big Sisters and just be open on those days,” Kilchenman said.

Tammy McGee said because Thursday, Friday and Saturday have always been the Kent location’s main business days, the new hours should not affect how much money will be donated to charity.

Big Brothers Big Sisters has set up drop-off points throughout Portage County, where people wishing to donate items can leave their old clothing, accessories and games. The donated items are first given to Fabulous Finds’ Streetsboro store, which Tammy McGee said is the primary sales location. After six weeks, items not sold at the Streetsboro store will be moved to the Kent “outlet” store, where their prices will be reduced to anywhere from 99 cents to $1.99.

Debbie Smith, manager of the Streetsboro store, said shoppers always seem pleased to discover their money will support Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“Most of our customers do know about it, and we tell them when they come in,” said Smith, who has worked at Fabulous Finds for nearly a year and a half.

The Streetsboro store will continue to be open seven days a week.

Contact public affairs reporter Kate Bigam at [email protected].