SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Volunteers of America Dakotas is starting what is called a community redistribution center. It will provide non-profits with brand new items they need for pennies on the dollar, everything from office supplies to toys for kids.
“This side we have a lot of light fixtures, we got a ton of light fixtures in from Amazon,” Sarah Hanson, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Volunteers of America Dakotas, said.
This warehouse, just north of Sioux Falls, is full of thousands of dollars in merchandise donated by national retailers and shipped to South Dakota. It’s part of a program called Greater Goods.
“So we try to set it up like a store so that everything is organized and labeled like it is at a store so if you know you are coming through to look for a desk we have them all in the same spot,” Hanson said.
Volunteers of America is partnering with a national non-profit called Good 360. Good 360 works with the nation’s largest retailers to help them manage returned goods and overstock items. Everything in this warehouse came from Walmart and the new Amazon distribution center in North Dakota. The variety of items they get is staggering.
“And then we move into our toys both indoor and outdoor, so play kitchen sets, tents to life jackets we have some underwater drones,” Hanson said.
Well, you know the old saying everything but the kitchen sink?
They’ve got the kitchen sink.
“We live in a world of abundance and there is more product out there than anyone knows what to do with and we just want to make sure that if it can go to someone who needs it let’s do that instead of getting it in a landfill,” Hanson said.
The Greater Good store will serve non-profits, churches, and schools who will all pay a membership fee. That fee is given back right away in the form of store credit. Each item in this store comes with a nominal fee. Just enough money to keep the lights on and pay for shipping.
Nathan Stallinga is the executive Director of Dakotabilites, he says joining is a no brainer
“For us, it’s an opportunity to find some of those cost savings we are all on very tight budgets we work with individuals who are well below the median income and so this will help them every day,” Stallinga said.
Some might wonder why the big retailers are willing to give up so much merchandise.
“A lot of times the cost to the retailer to get that item prepared and repackaged for resale is just not worth it. It’s so much easier if they can find a partner like Good 360 who can just connect them. Sometimes in shipping, the barcode got damaged and the cost to have someone reprint a barcode and put it on there is just not worth it, it’s just easier for the retailer to pack it all together and find a non-profit who can use it,” Hanson said.
VOA has been getting returned merchandise like this for a couple of years,
“We still have pallets and pallets of school supplies,” Hanson said.
But now they are ready to expand and make it available to others.
“We are planning to launch late summer, early fall right around that back to school time so we know that we have a lot of school supplies right now we are pretty sure that we are going to have non-profits that are going to come through and really really need those,” Hanson said.
They just purchased and moved into this warehouse, and are still getting organized. Their next steps will be learning what local nonprofits need the most, and recruiting volunteers to help unload the trucks.