The Southport Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce doesn’t just help small businesses, they are supportive and creative in helping area retail businesses and local nonprofits as well. When Communities In Schools Executive Director Bonnie Jordan was thinking of ways to boost customer traffic for CIS Thrift Shops, she discussed an idea with CIS Thrift Shop Operations Director Todd Beane about a thrift shopping trail. Beane had seen a similar eco-tourism trail develop around large wooden quilt square patterns on barns and approached Karen Sphar, Executive Vice President of the Southport Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce to see what options were available. There had been no previous special marketing or event already in place for the many thrift shops that support nonprofit organizations in the area.
The Chamber and CIS contacted local nonprofit thrift shops in the area to gain participation and support for creating the marketing and consumer friendly tool to promote the shops. There are seven nonprofit thrift shops in the Southport Oak Island area that are located in an excellent path for patrons to be able to visit all seven shops in one day’s shopping extravaganza.
The participating shops in the Thrift Shop Trail are: CIS Thrift Shop Boiling Spring Lakes, CIS Thrift Shop Southport, Dosher Hospital Flea Market, Habitat for Humanity Restore Southport, Hope Chest Oak Island, Hope Chest Supply/Bolivia, and Sheltered Treasures. These shops all support local nonprofits and their missions. CIS Thrift Shops – Communities In Schools and dropout prevention for Brunswick County students, Dosher Flea Market – Dosher Hospital and funding its health services, Habitat for Humanity Restore – supports Habitat for Humanity building homes for individuals in need, Hope Chest – provides financial support for Hope Harbor Home's programs, domestic violence victims and their children, and Sheltered Treasures – supports Providence Home Teen Shelter providing free short-term and safe shelter to Brunswick County youth , due to an emergency, high-risk or crisis situation, cannot remain with their families.
Once the area thrift shops were contacted and all onboard the Thrift Shop Trail, an inclusive brochure was designed including participating shops, organizations they support, contact information and hours, locations, and identifying logos. There is even a Thrift Shop Trail map on the back of the brochure indicating all the locations along the trail for shoppers to easily navigate the route. The route has shops located in Boiling Spring Lakes, Oak Island, Southport, and Supply. “The Thrift Shop Trail is an inventive marketing tool for promoting the great value of items found in local thrift shops and a way to let shoppers know what organizations are supported with each dollar they spend,” said Beane. Sphar went on to say, “ Our Chamber is about creating business opportunities and that includes our non-profit organizations, who are doing more with less, which is also what you will find thrifting.”
The Thrift Shop Trail will officially kick off on Saturday, April 17 with special sales all day and customer drawings held at each shop along the trail. Watch for more information shared on participating organizations’ social media pages as the date draws near. Thrift Shop Trail brochures can be picked up at any participating thrift shop or at the Southport Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce office on Long Beach Road in Southport. “It’s a fun way to shop and support local community nonprofits at the same time. We’ll see you on the trail,” said Beane.