Jessica Nemeth didn’t want to see the community she grew up in lose something that so many depend upon.
When she heard the non-profit Penny Lane Bargain Outlet was closing its doors permanently, she batted around the idea of opening another retail outlet that offers rock-bottom prices on clothing and furniture while injecting the profits back into community projects.
“Penny Lane put $2 million into the community in the last 11 years and supported so many projects in Summerland that have to do with youth. There is still a need for a business like this and there is no place in Summerland right now to buy a pair of socks or clothes for the whole family,” said Nemeth.
“I half-heartedly said I was going to save Penny Lane, and it has turned into a whole new project, which is awesome.”
Now Nemeth, the president of the newly formed Okanagan Community Development Society, is looking towards the goal of opening a new store in August.
Full Circle Outlet will be in the same vein as the store it is replacing, providing affordable clothing and home furnishings while giving back to the community. They already have made connections with off-shore manufacturers, purchased home items from Zellers liquidations, and Vancouver-based Orb clothing has agreed to sell end-of-season clothing at cheap prices. Previous employees of Penny Lane also will be returning to work in the Full Circle Outlet.
“My philosophy lately has been that we all have something to give and it can be really little or really big, but why not do something. Someone said to me that I could probably make a really solid business out of this and profit for myself, but that is not what I want. I was born and raised in Summerland, and my mom too, and I want people to see it doesn’t take much to give back. You just have to give some of your time,” said Nemeth.
Others also share that vision and stepped forward to help sit on the board which includes vice-president Jeff Kruck, secretary Kristi Leardo, John Ryland and treasurer Paula Cowen.
The Summerland Charity Shops Society decided to close the doors of Penny Lane on June 1 because of substandard inventory from suppliers that was coming in and mostly unsalable. This began after the contract with Sears ended in October 2012, and rather than see its legacy tarnished, the society moved to close the store.
Leaning on the experience of the previous society and on previous reports conducted by Community Futures on Penny Lane, the OCDS developed a new refreshed vision for a new outlet shop.
Community Futures and Summerland Credit Union also provided assistance by getting $85,000 in loans to OCDS so they can get their new digs at 13207 Victoria Rd. (across the street from Penny Lane) open. Nemeth said she can’t thank their new landlords, Dionne and Kosta Bakalos, owners of Summerland Gold and Silver, enough for everything they have done on the lease.
Nemeth hopes Full Circle will be open in August and said they are making plans to get on social media to spread the word of the store and to arrange for a big opening-day celebration.
“Penny Lane brought a lot of people to Summerland’s downtown core and we are really lucky to have the past board to have implemented everything they did and really get the ball rolling for this. Combined with our fresh ideas and looking outside of the box, we might be able to achieve something that hasn’t been achieved yet,” said Nemeth.