Finders Keepers consignment shops give back to the community

Finders Keepers owner Bonnie Kallenberg

On the evening of Sunday, Sept 10, Finders Keepers Boutique & Menswear in Decatur held  its first Shop Fall Fashion for a Cause event benefitting the Atlanta-based nonprofit Wells for Hope, which strives to bring water, health care and education to remote villages in South Sudan. While the event was new, it’s part of this woman-owned resale business’ long tradition of giving back.

“When you shop local the reach is much deeper than you think, you are really helping the community,” Finders Keeper Consignments owner Bonnie Kallenberg explained. “We are a small business, so we look to help small nonprofits.“

A frequent winner in the city’s “Best of Atlanta” polls, Finders Keepers boasts four stores that Kallenberg thoughtfully added over more than three decades to meet customers’ needs.

In 1986, while Kallenberg was at home raising two small children she took a part-time job at Finders Keepers, located then in Avondale Estates Tudor Village. Four years later she bought the business.

“I loved being in a store. I loved merchandising. I liked helping people find things, but on the resale level because there’s so much value there,“ Kallenberg said.

As the resale business boomed in the 1990s, Kallenberg relocated Finders Keepers Fashions a block down North Avondale road into a new much larger space that today features women’s clothing and accessories. To accommodate the supply and demand for furniture, Kallenberg converted a nearby body shop into Finders Keepers Furnishings. A decade later, Finders Keepers Boutique opened on North Decatur Road to showcase more upscale and designer women’s fashions. Its menswear neighbor opened in July 2011.

As the business grew, so did its commitment to giving back. From the beginning, Finders Keepers donated unsold, unclaimed merchandise to local transitional centers and nonprofits, like New American Pathways, Atlanta Step-Up Society, Wellspring Treasures, and Urban Street Ministries.

Maybe you’ve attended one their end of season “bag sales” that raise $1,500 to $2,500 per sale for a local nonprofit. “We put everything in the parking lot – all you can stuff in a bag for $10. It’s a win/win – we get rid of everything quickly and the charity receives 100 percent of the sales,” Kallenberg said.

For Kallenberg, giving is local and personal. Early on, she met a New American Pathways (NAP) caseworker who explained the challenges of refugees rebuilding their lives in Clarkston, just up the road. That began a long relationship beyond bag sales.

Kallenberg hired Kanu Bartuah, a Liberian refugee, to work in the furniture store. When she learned his dream was to go to college to become a pilot, Finders Keepers stepped up once again raising money for Bartuah to attend Middle Georgia College of Aviation. Today, Bartuah has his private flying license and is working to accrue hours toward a commercial license.

“I really feel like our customers, consigners, donors and everybody in the community paid for a significant part of his college so he didn’t have to come out with huge student loan debt. It’s a very giving community – his story resonated with people,” Kallenberg shared.

Finders Keepers also participates in The World Wear Project – Shoe Box Program, a for-profit that buys used shoes and either recycles them or sells them to developing nations.

“Since they were not technically our shoes – I didn’t think it was right that we got the check.” Kallenberg said. Instead, she sends the checks to Wells for Hope, nearly $700 worth last year.

Any nonprofit can benefit from Finders Keepers by setting up a nonprofit consignor account. As their members drop off high quality clothing, accessories, furniture or housewares, just name the nonprofit as the consignor to receive 45 percent of the proceeds of the items sold.

We are more about community than being everywhere. I grew up here. I am right at home,” Kallenberg said. Adding, “I think there will always be a place for brick and mortar because when you shop local you give local.”

Follow Finders Keepers Consignments on Facebook for details on Shop Fall Fashion for a Cause and the September Bag Sale, both benefiting Wells for Hope.

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