Since 1950, this community gem has been a philanthropic powerhouse, turning donated goods into much-needed gifts for the hospital. And this month, it celebrated that achievement in style, marking 70 years of business.
While the store, originally known as the White Elephant Shop, may have been in operation prior to 1950, that was the year it got its first permanent location at 1006 W. Washington in Bloomington. Staffed by volunteers from the Women’s Service League of Brokaw Hospital and local church volunteers, it was a bright and cheery store, with green and yellow walls and a dark red door. Since then, there have been several moves, and more than a few name changes, but today the store is stronger than ever, providing major gifts that benefit patient care.
According to Sue Seibring, manager of Volunteer Services at Carle BroMenn Medical Center, the Resale Boutique has funded many major patient enhancements over the past several years. Standouts include a $97,000 gift to renovate the inpatient Behavioral Health Unit, an $85,000 gift to the hospital’s neonatology services, and an $80,000 donation that created the Simulation Lab in Acute Rehabilitation in 2017.
This year, the Resale Boutique is on pace to net somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000 to improve patient care, all thanks to an amazing team of staff and volunteers, the generosity of the community, and purchases that make a big difference, a few dollars at a time.
You can donate gently used items to or at the Carle BroMenn Resale Boutique. Donations accepted Monday – Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and shoppers welcome Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
“Not everybody is able to write a big check, but everyone can invest a little on a shirt,” says Cheryl Budde, who started volunteering nearly 30 years ago when the store was on Front Street. It’s dark rooms and musty basement are a far cry from the beautiful store that now welcomes guests. Budde says she enjoys connecting with each of them, not just the customers in front, but those dropping off their cherished items in the back.
“That’s what’s so neat about the Resale Boutique,” Carolann Carara, store supervisor, said. “We have a really strong community. We probably have four or five individuals that come in to our store several times a week. Some spend several hours here.”
And Carara says her exceptional team always makes everyone feel welcome. “It’s not just a place to come and shop. It’s also a place to just come and be at home.”
Three full-time employees and a massive team of 80 volunteers sort, price and stock the shelves, and reset the store once a month to keep things looking fun and fresh.
While more volunteers are welcome, Seibring is quick to add that it’s not a job without risks — namely the constant temptation to shop. “You can’t go in there and not buy something,” laughs Seibring. Consider yourself warned.
To learn how to volunteer, visit carle.org/volunteer.