Purple Shoe Thrift Shoppe expanding again

amoody@newsobserver.comJune 10, 2014 

— There’s an ongoing trend at the Purple Shoe Thrift Shoppe in Zebulon.

The nonprofit boutique, which through sales helps provide shelter and services to victims of domestic violence, seems to need more space every two years. It’s a good problem to have.

“I think what has happened is we’ve proven ourselves to the community that we are trustworthy and have great merchandise at a very reasonable price,” said Alice Coleman, Purple Shoe founder and executive director for the Association of Domestic Violence Outreach Stores. “When you offer those kinds of qualities, people respond to them.”

Workers and volunteers cleared the former workspace in the back of the West Gannon Avenue building in 2012 to open The Purple Cottage, a permanent space for the growing surplus of furniture the store began collecting in 2010.

Over the past month, the store has been upfitting the adjacent office space that formerly housed H&R Block to expand the Cottage again. A grand opening for the furniture consignment shop’s new site is slated for this Friday, June 13.

No different than when the store first opened, Purple Shoe leaders say they’ve expanded again on faith that they will be able to keep the new space filled with consignment furniture and that people will continue to purchase items from the Cottage. So far, so good.

“The response was kind of slow in the beginning, but we’ve talked and talked and talked to people about (the expansion),” said Purple Shoe manager Jane Williams.

There were two truckloads of furniture waiting on Williams when she arrived to work Thursday.

“It’s been pretty good,” Williams said. “People are still bringing stuff in and consigning them. We just started (filling the Cottage) a couple days ago and it’s pretty jam packed already.”

Furnishings flourish

Furniture has been a lifeline for the Purple Shoe since 2010. Prior to that time, the store primarily filled its showroom with clothing.

When clothing donations ran low, leaving a portion of the showroom bare, Coleman turned to furniture as a temporary solution. It was successful enough to become a permanent fixture.

“The very fact we’re still in business five years after we started is a testament to the community embracing what we do,” Coleman said. “It’s not just a store that sells $5 clothes. We’re a part of people’s personal lives.

“We have great, quality items – that’s what they come for. But when they get there, they get the experience of caring ... a helping spirit in the community.”

Swelling service

The extra space will also help the Purple Shoe expand on its underlying purpose of supporting women. The store had always been a safe haven and informational post for domestic violence victims. Coleman palns to introduce free classes in the Cottage on anything from interior decorating to healthy living and healthy relationships.

“Before we really didn’t have a place where people can sit,” Coleman said. “This will be more conducive for an actual place where people can meet and feel comfortable.”

Coleman is looking forward to widening the range of women the Purple Shoe serves.

“As a nonprofit, our mission is to serve the community and we’ve been doing that for some time,” she said. “But there are other women who need other support groups.

“We want to be able to use that place not only for people to get rid of the things they don’t want, but to be a service to the community.”

The Purple Shoe is always in need of volunteers to help prepare clothing and furniture for resale. The store, located at 407 W. Gannon Ave., can be reached at 919-269-0109.

Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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