Resale shops are a common fundraising solution for many non-profit organizations, taking low-end donated items and selling them at bargain prices. But at Napa Valley Hospice and Adult Day Services, two PUC alumni are taking the concept to a higher level.
This summer Linda Gibson, ’72, and Kellie Lind, ’82, launched La Boheme, an upscale and beautifully-cultivated secondhand décor shop in St. Helena, Calif. Kellie operates the store and proceeds go to the hospice service, of which Linda is president and CEO. In the weeks since the shop has opened, both income and community participation have far exceeded either of their expectations.
“Everyone who has had experience with hospice service has had such a great experience,” says Linda. “We tell the customers right off the bat that the shop benefits the hospice service, and people seem glad to do business with us when they hear that.”
Napa Valley Hospice and Adult Day Services was founded at St. Helena Hospital, and later expanded off the hill to provide services to patients across the Napa Valley. Those services include health care options for seniors, transitional care for people of all ages coping with serious illnesses, care and support for terminally ill patients, and grief support for patients and their families. For many families—including Linda’s own several years ago—the NVHADS and similar programs provide great comfort during an incredibly difficult time.
“NVHADS served my mom when she died from lung cancer,” says Linda. “Hospice actually saved my life, because they made sure my mom was comfortable during her illness, educated me about what to expect during the last months of life and provided a volunteer for daily respite for me while I was her primary caretaker.”
The resale shop is an idea that has tentatively been in the works for many years. At previous points in their careers, Linda and Kellie both worked for St. Helena Hospital, where they collaborated on a similar project benefitting the hospital’s cancer center.
Public enthusiasm for the project, say Linda and Kellie, extends beyond just the customers—suppliers have also been eager to give. Much of the store’s initial stock came as a single large donation from a Napa Valley antique store that was on its way out of business. Most other items come from the community. Customers who buy items from the store are often also the store’s most frequent suppliers. In fact, just a month after opening, Kellie had to close the store for several days for a massive overhaul to make way for the unstoppable influx in donations.
That redesign highlights a key element of the store’s unique appeal: Kellie’s brilliance as a curator, rather than just a store manager. Instead of stacks of merchandise or racks of unorganized clothing one finds at many other secondhand shops, the stock at La Boheme is displayed beautifully in a way more reminiscent of a high-end boutique, or even a gallery. The store’s layout is constantly changing, not only to make room for new items, but to incorporate new items into the design.
“People have really appreciated visiting the store,” says Kellie. “Some will even come back multiple times in the same day, to keep shopping or see if there’s anything new.”
“The thing that stands out is that it doesn’t feel like a secondhand store—nothing feels used or old,” says Michelle Rai, a PUC professor who has frequently shopped and donated at La Boheme. “When you have something really nice that you just can’t use anymore, you want it to go to a great place like that, where someone can really appreciate it and where it will go to help a good cause.”Apparently many in the upper Napa Valley community feel the same way, and business at La Boheme shows no sign of slowing down. “Our goal at first was just to break even,” says Kellie. “We’ve blown that goal out of the water
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