Business Spotlight: The Clothesline – An Article from the Meridian Weekly

business spotlight clothesline by Ed BuskirkEd Buskirk of the Meridian Weekly and www.LaingsburgNews.com recently wrote a piece about our very own Clothesline.  Click here to view the original article.  Courtesy of The Meridian Weekly (meridianweekly.com).

Story and photos by Ed Buskirk

As a first grade teacher at Laingsburg Elementary School, Lisa Jelenek saw a need. With clothing prices skyrocketing upward and the economy beginning to spiral downward, many families were having difficulty adequately clothing themselves and their children.

Lisa and her husband, Tom, purchased an empty storefront at 120 East Grand River, below the hill in downtown Laingsburg, and put out a call to area churches and community members for donations and volunteers to help refurbish the former grocery store. A call also went out for donations of good resalable clothing.

After months of equity sweat hours from the Jeleneks and many others, The Clothesline, a non-profit resale clothing store, opened in 2005. A sign on the wall of the store reminds volunteer workers and customers of its mission statement:

“The purpose of The Clothesline is two-fold. The first goal is to provide quality, gently used clothing to the community at low cost and to those in need for free. The second goal is to provide needed funding to local charitable projects by returning all profits from the resale of donated clothing back to the community.”

The Clothesline is operated by a board of directors consisting of community members. Board member and volunteer coordinator Pat White stresses that the store has no paid employees, and that everything on the racks, from an extensive selection of shoes and clothing for the whole family, to a well-stocked jewelry counter, is donated by community members.

Although the core mission of The Clothesline is to provide good affordable clothing to everyone and to donate free clothing to needy local families, the volunteers who work in the store tell of helping many types of customers, including those who are thrilled with finding a vintage t-shirt, purse or hat, or with getting a designer-label suit for next to nothing. Some of the items in the store still have their original price tags but were, for whatever reason, never worn.

“We had a couple in here one time that had come into town for a wedding, but the husband had forgotten his dress clothes,” related Lisa Jelenek. “He not only found a great suit, but she also decided to buy a dress to wear to the event rather than the one she brought with her from home. They were from Chicago, and couldn’t believe the quality of our clothing for the price. We’ve also had students and adults find things for Halloween costumes… and grandparents gathering up tons of barely worn baby clothing for their grandkids. There’s truly a treasure for every style and pocketbook.”

Most items at The Clothesline are between $1 and $20, and the store runs regular sales, such as 10 items for $10 bag sales. This month the store is running a promotion with Mark’s Food Pride, where every Mark’s shopper can get a coupon for a free Clothesline item. Special events are also planned for the annual Laingsburg Pancake Breakfast and Classic Car Show later in the month.

As with conventional retail clothing stores, The Clothesline carries seasonal clothing. Donations are now being accepted of clean, gently used fall and back-to-school clothes, which will go on display in early August. Because it is a 501(c)3, all donations are tax-deductible. Applications are also always available for those who need free clothing. While only those with Laingsburg addresses are eligible for free clothing, the store welcomes shoppers from all communities.

The Clothesline is also always in need of volunteers, be it for staffing the store during its twice weekly hours, sorting and displaying donated items, or helping with needed building upkeep and repairs. Persons interested in donating clothing, time or labor may contact Pat White at (517) 651-5390.

With it’s aged brick walls, high ceiling and hanging lights and fans, the store has the look and feel of a late nineteenth century business. That atmosphere was recently enhanced with the addition of a new facade as part of a largely grant-funded renovation of storefronts in the block to restore them to their historic look.