Good Shepherd Transitions Thrift Business to VIA5/6/2008
May 6, 2008
Allentown—Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Via of the Lehigh Valley are working cooperatively to transition Good Shepherd's thrift operations to Via. With a growing thrift business, Via is well-positioned to incorporate Good Shepherd's thrift operations, including merchandise, equipment and some employees into their existing thrift store operation. The transition is expected to be completed no later than June 1, 2008.
Good Shepherd operated three thrift stores: 859 Nazareth Pike in Nazareth, 1901 Lehigh Street in Allentown and 2330 26th Street (The RePlace) in Allentown. Via intends to continue operation of the Nazareth store and is negotiating to continue the lease. The Good Shepherd Lehigh Street store closed in April and a new Via Thrift Store opened in the Parkway Shopping Center located at 1538 Lehigh Street. The RePlace is expected to cease operations by June 1.
Merchandise from the two Allentown locations will be transferred to Via. Some of Good Shepherd's equipment, including donation bins, balers, fork lift and trucks, will be purchased by Via. In addition, several former Good Shepherd thrift store employees have already joined the Via thrift stores' staff.
Good Shepherd's three thrift stores were part of its Work Services Division. The thrift store model was developed by Good Shepherd in the early 1980s to support Good Shepherd's mission to care for people with disabilities. The stores' original goals were to provide revenue for the organization while providing job training for people with disabilities. Those goals are no longer being met, so the Good Shepherd Board of Trustees made the decision to look for a new owner for the thrift operation.
"To better understand the decision to transition the stores to Via, consider that the Good Shepherd Work Services Division – established 50 years ago – began by providing job training through facility-based employment (a workshop)," says Sally Gammon, president & CEO, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network. "While Work Services still provides jobs through its facility-based operation, it has shifted its focus to community-based employment for people with disabilities. Rather than training people to work in sheltered environments like the thrift stores, many Work Services clients are finding competitive and sometimes permanent employment with organizations such as Walgreens, Kraft and PPL."
"We applaud Good Shepherd's shift in focus to community-based employment for individuals with disabilities," says Ron Rucker, Via President and CEO. "Via strongly believes that people with disabilities should have the same opportunities to live and work in the communities where they live. Helping individuals find jobs in community settings is one of our core strategies in helping people connect to their communities.
"This opportunity with Good Shepherd fits with our desire to expand our current thrift store operations. It allows us to expand rather quickly and benefit from the large shopper and donor bases Good Shepherd's stores have built over the years. Via Thrift Stores are a critical component of our strategy to fund our programs for people with disabilities. Expanding into four stores and multiple donor sites strengthens our ability to provide vital services for the individuals and families we serve."
Via's growing thrift store division includes their new Lehigh Street store at 1538 Lehigh Street in Allentown, the Via Thrift Boutique in the Westgate Mall which opened last year, and their Fountain Hill thrift store which has been open since 1987. Via's thrift stores were established in 1975 to provide revenue to benefit Via's services for children and adults with disabilities. Via's thrift stores are located at:
Via Thrift Store
Via Thrift Boutique
Via Thrift Store
About Via of the Lehigh Valley
About Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network