BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT Find treasures, help the community at the ‘What Not Shop’

Becky Jacobs had dreams of owning her very own resale store, and having an outlet to be able to give back to her community. Jacobs’ dream came true on Dec. 5, 2013 when she opened the What Not Shop on Main Street in New England.

The inside of the What Not Shop has been reorganized thanks to the help of volunteers.  (Photos by Rachel Bock
The inside of the What Not Shop has been reorganized thanks to the help of volunteers.
(Photos by Rachel Bock

By RACHEL BOCK | Herald Reporter
To make Jacobs’ business successful, she relies on the community for donations of clothing and other used items to sell in her store.
In the first years of operating, Jacobs became almost overwhelmed by all the items she accumulated, and didn’t know what she should display. She tried to display everything, making her store look almost cluttered. Jacobs and her volunteered staff didn’t know how to fix the problem, and they didn’t have the time to clean and do things the proper way. Noticing that this wasn’t exactly how she envisioned what her dream store would look like, Jacobs reached out to her friend Vivian Hernandez, who has knowledge in the resale business.
Hernandez has managed the Cedar Chest in Bowman for over 13 years. She knows what the need is and what sells in a resale store. She also knows that people like a neat, non-cluttered store. Jacobs closed her store for almost two weeks, and while she was healing from a knee surgery, Hernandez and some other volunteers started organizing the store starting from the front of the store and moving to the back.
“Vivian has given me two weeks of her time. She has done all of this. She was definitely a gift to me, it wouldn’t be what it is right now if it wouldn’t have been for Vivian and her daughters help,” Jacobs said.
To celebrate the new organized look of the store, the What Not Shop had a spring fling sale on March 15.
“I just felt that I needed to help Becky because I want her to succeed. She [Jacobs] has now some place people are going to want to shop. Right now we have beautiful junior girl’s clothes, junior boy’s clothes, and some really nice things,” Hernandez said.
Spring clothing is the big feature in the store right now, along with Easter and other spring decorations. There are other household items such as collectibles, antiques, and dishes. The What Not Shop has a nice selection of clothing, from kids to adults. They carry all sizes from infant to adult plus sizes. All clothing that is sold in the store is stain free, and the cost is anywhere from $1 to $5 per item.
“We try to be reasonably priced. If you need it or want it, I would rather someone be able to have it,” Jacobs said.
The majority of the items at the What Not Shop have been donated, and Jacobs has also purchased some. She does not accept anything on consignment, however, to add more craft items in her store if someone has something that is homemade or artistic, Jacobs does not charge to display their items.
Since the store’s organization, Jacobs still accepts almost anything for donations, but now Jacobs is starting to be more selective about what she puts out on the shelves. She evaluates the items and thinks to herself, would someone want to own the items or pay money for those items in the store? If something has lived its life, or is broken, or is missing pieces she can’t sell those items, and unfortunately has to throw them away. Jacobs is also unable to accept old electronics or old television sets.
“I have to dispose of those items, and it costs me money to do so. If it costs me money to dispose of something, that is less money that can go to someone else,” Jacobs.
What doesn’t get sold at the What Not Shop—any items that are in good condition and are still useable—are donated to help out someone in need.
“We get a lot of donations here and I want people to know what happens to the things that they bring here. While we offer what we can in New England and after New England gets first pick, we also send what we have had out and we send what we can’t put out or what hasn’t sold to the less fortunate. We send stuff to the Orphan Grain Train, the Lame Deer Indian Reservation Thrift store, and we have also sent stuff to Africa. We also have helped people in the community. We have donated items to the prison. I just wanted people to know where their things are going when they bring their stuff in,” Jacobs said.
Becky Jacobs opened the store to provide a service for her community, and to generate a way to give back and help others. All of her staff are volunteers, and there are some months where it costs her money to have the store open.
“Yes I am a profit store, but we probably give away what we bring in. We give away a lot and I am fine with that. I have to pay the mortgage and the light bill, but beyond that if I can make a few extra dollars to take someone out to eat I am happy. I didn’t start this, that I was going to get rich in mind. I just wanted to have a resale store,” Jacobs said.
“I would like our community to know that if they need a coat or help in any way that is what we are here for. We’re not here to just sell stuff. If any kid comes to school without a coat come down here and get them a coat. If they need socks or snow pants, boats or whatever they need if we have the items it is theirs. I want the community to understand what we are trying accomplish here, and that we need their support,” Jacobs said.
The What Not Shop is open during the week Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
“It is a fun store, we’re very kid friendly. We try to help anybody and everybody that comes in the store,” Jacobs said.

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