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A boutique on a mission

Amy’s Closet volunteer Veronica MacKinnon and manager Shasta Steele.

Amy’s Closet volunteer Veronica MacKinnon and manager Shasta Steele.

Amy’s Closet funds battered women’s shelter with proceeds

ANNIE BLACKBURN
Staff Writer

Shasta Steele went on a trip to Florida and came back with a vision.
A member on the board for Amy’s House, a battered women’s shelter in Lincoln County and now the manager of Amy’s Closet and Consignment Boutique, Steele noticed during her trip that there were several consignment shops that operated for a purpose.
“Ambulance service, EMS, Salvation Army, and I went in and talked to people and they said it was very profitable and they helped their organizations very well,” Steele said.
With a passion to help Amy’s House, Steele took her idea to the board. After three months of putting together a business model and collecting the initial donations that would be sold in the store, she was given the green light. Steele looked through Lincolnton and Denver and eventually opened the store Amy’s Closet and Consignment Boutique on Highway 16. Once the doors were open, the donations came flooding in.
“We had donated clothes in our storage locker that we started out with,” she said. “I think I got five loads of clothes when we started and everything has been donated since. We haven’t had to dig into our storage locker. It’s very nice.”
Opening its doors on May 2, 2013, the shop is staffed entirely by volunteers, freeing up all proceeds to go to Amy’s House. The fundraising ideas that the organization previously attempted brought in funding, but not the money that is required to keep the home open and operating, which prompted Amy’s House to look for other avenues of financial backing. After only operating for 7 months, the store raised over $5,000 for Amy’s House. So far in 2014, that number has doubled.
Vendors and jewelry makers have started taking notice of the boutique, putting items in the store for sale. Twenty percent of their profits go to Amy’s House as well.
The boutique isn’t just to generate funding for the battered women’s shelter. According to Steele, it serves as a beacon for hope. Oftentimes, abuse victims leave a domestic violence situation with little more than the clothes on their backs. Amy’s Closet steps in to provide clothing for them and their children if needed at no cost.
It also serves as a beacon to women that may be afraid to speak out about their situation. According to Steele, just shopping often opens a desperately needed dialogue.
The most important aspect of the organization, while it looks comparable to other upscale boutiques, is the mission. The money goes to a worthy cause, and Steele hopes it continues to come in, and for the best reasons.
“I’d like to see us making lots of money so we can afford a new shelter,” Steele said.

Image courtesy of Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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