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Meet Christa Clumpner of Monarch Thrift Shop in Avondale and Logan Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christa Clumpner.

Christa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I worked for many years at a non-profit called Emmaus Ministries. Emmaus is an outreach on the streets, working with men who have been caught up in survival prostitution. Through my work with Emmaus I met many individuals who had been incarcerated, and had other barriers to finding full time employment when they were ready to get back on their feet. Along with a team of these men, and the staff and leadership of Emmaus, the vision for Monarch was born. We wanted to have a thrift shop that included a beautiful environment for customers, offered affordable prices for community members, and provided internships and positions for those wanting to get back on their feet in a supportive and creative environment. I invited a former co-worker who I knew had an eye for fashion, a huge heart for the work of Emmaus, and excellent organizational skills to join me. That was in December 2014. In October 2015 Monarch Thrift Shop had our grand opening and attracted over 400 people to celebrate with a day of shopping and refreshments, and concluded with a fashion presentation by celebrity stylist, Verneccia LaShay, using clothing from the store. It was a crazy and beautiful day. Monarch is still developing. Today we have 4 employees and about a dozen regular volunteers.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There are many challenges to starting something new.
Getting start-up funding to build out the store was challenging.
Prioritizing the different aspects of our mission to ensure a sustainable model is an ongoing challenge.
Having space to sort and process donations is our current challenge.
The committed team of employees and volunteers helps smooth the way and get us through each challenge and gives me confidence that we will get through our current challenges and future ones as well.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Monarch Thrift Shop – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Monarch Thrift Shop is a thrift store selling furniture, clothing, and housewares. Monarch has become a community for the community. We focus our strategies on improving human well-being. By putting our efforts and proceeds into programs that support and provide services for vulnerable populations, we put donations and dollars into growing stronger communities.

Our mission is to provide Chicagoans quality merchandise in a boutique environment where all proceeds benefit programs for vulnerable populations.

What I am most proud of and what I think sets us apart, is that we not only provide a pleasant shopping atmosphere with beautiful store layouts and quality merchandise, we also participate in many collaborative efforts in our city. Some of these have included: holding an after-hours coat drive for a local agency, hosting a local school fundraising event, participating in one of Chicago’s Summit of Hope events by providing free dress shirts to attendees along with personalized fitting assistance, and sponsoring tote bags for the Social Change Film festival. We are proud of our partnerships and seek to build on and support what others are doing to create strong communities.

I am also incredibly proud of our employees and volunteers who give over and above what is expected every day.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We are always planning for new events, bigger sales events for our customers, and we hope to launch a more robust work-internship program in the near future.

Pricing:

  • 20% off for senior citizens and students every Tuesday
  • Current item prices range from $.10 (in our kids and housewares) to $750 (for an antique bedroom set)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jose Bustamenta and Mireya Fouche

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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