Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

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By edhat staff

The Unity Shoppe temporarily closed its family programs location and laid off fifteen employees last month due to financial stress.

The local nonprofit closed its 1401 Chapala Street location on Monday, September 16, which offers free food, clothing, and school supplies to those in need. The services at their 1209 State Street location remain open and offer Job Smart, Senior Services, and Disaster Programs as well as a retail gift shop.

The Diana and Simon Raab Charitable Trust is currently offering a $100,000  matching donation challenge as the Unity Shoppe asks the community to pitch in on their website.

The Unity Shoppe's management team is currently volunteering to support its diabetic and emergency clients as well as raising the funds necessary to reopen its doors to the community. They're hoping for a mid-November re-opening in time for the holiday season.

The nonprofit cites providing support for over 1,500 victims of the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow as creating a strain on supply levels and cash flow shortfalls. They also stated cutbacks in funding from donors and grant providers who directed their fundraising dollars toward the natural disasters, and purchasing a building in late 2017 to complete the relocation of Unity Shoppe's eight support programs added to the financial stress.

“On the plus side, the purchase of our newest building virtually eliminated the costs associated with rental fees, property taxes, landlords’ insurance, and maintenance as well as potential increases in rents or associated moving costs, all of which weigh heavily for an organization of our size and complexity, “ says Tom Reed, Unity Shoppe’s Executive Director.

Barbara Tellefson, Unity Shoppe’s Operations Director for the past 45 years adds, “Our goal was to leave as little cost as possible for future leaders of our organization and guarantee they devote themselves completely to serving our community.”

The Unity Shoppe was founded in 1917 by activist Pearl Chase and averages 20,000 clients that are served each year. The Unity Grocery Store and Clothing Center is relied upon by 10,000 households annually and more than 1,800 volunteers work alongside Unity staff, including hundreds of seniors who help a range of residents with their handiwork; 5,000 essentials care packages are distributed locally by volunteers to homebound seniors and the disabled.

“For over a century, members of this community have counted on us for support when they’ve needed it most; we’re incredibly optimistic that now they will answer the call and come to our aid in return,” says Reed.

To make a donation, go to www.unityshoppe.org; or for more information, contact Tom Reed, 805-965- 9051 or Pat Hitchcock, 805-979-9511

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RHS Oct 02, 2019 10:14 AM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

So more proof that certain Edhat commentators can find conspiracy and social divisiveness in anything. This simple story is about good people trying to do good things. Maybe they made strategic mistakes, maybe you don't approve of their clientele, maybe they should have less celebrity support or maybe they should have more celebrity support. Whatever. They have done good for needy people for decades. Let's honor that and wish them a better future.

PitMix Oct 02, 2019 09:36 AM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

There is a lot of competition for donations in this town. Almost every weekend there are multiple fundraisers for deserving non-profits. Plus if you seem to have a lot of celebrity support there is the impression that you don't really need donations from the average person. I know someone in the non-profit world and it is a constant struggle for survival for most of them. The only group that seems to be doing well is the one that runs the million dollar house raffle but there is an unwritten rule that you don't encroach on another person's fundraising strategy and ruin it for them.

winter Oct 01, 2019 06:35 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

I love the Unity Shoppe...nice people... Think the poster has it right with compassion fatigue....we have 400 non profits here.. Supposed to give, and give more..and it's expensive to live here...homeless..everywhere.

a-1574471038 Oct 01, 2019 05:48 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

Uhhhhh Simon and Diana Raab are putting up $100,000, they are very nice people. It is time for the keyboard warriors here to stop posting inane comments about "woke people", step up and make a donation. Pearl Chase approves.

ChillinGrillin Oct 01, 2019 05:38 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

I find it hard to believe that Unity Shoppe is closing because of the mudslides. They have no money because of mismanagement. How does buying real estate on a downtown corner location during a market bubble make sense? How does a storefront on State St. make any sense? Their services are duplicated by the Foodbank and more efficient nonprofits that serve youth and the elderly. I'll be donating at the end of the year to them instead of a nonprofit that consistently makes bad decisions and lost its original purpose.

a-1574471038 Oct 01, 2019 04:18 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

Someone please explain how it can be that the Unity Shoppe board of directors is chocker block filled with bankers, lawyers, and media folks....PLUS our city is filled to the brim with loving, caring, giving, and wealthy folks...yet they gotta shut the doors down? Maybe we are not so giving after all.

Factotum Oct 01, 2019 03:51 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

In a town where nearly every store has poster saying they take taxpayer funded EBT cards, no one will starve if they don't get additional food from this operation. In fact, too often what is handed out for "charity" actually gets sent to relatives back home, because these families are getting so much taxpayer funded handouts. .

SBTownie Nov 06, 2019 07:33 AM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

Exactly. I really wonder the point of charities like this in an era of EBT everywhere and the cheapest clothing imaginable. The thrift stores - which are supposed to help the poor - are more expensive than shopping at Forever21.

Factotum Oct 01, 2019 03:28 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

Town is suffering from compassion fatigue. Enabling too many who continue to making poor life choices does not help anyone. Including donors who are choosing to make more productive choices. They are tired of watching permanent dependencies on handouts only grow; instead seeing their charitable donations offer a helping hand for a temporary need. Quite honestly, too much private charity in this town has been a lousy ROI.

a-1574471038 Oct 01, 2019 11:38 AM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

Just another indication that the "woke" people in this town are all talk. How pathetic that they have time and money to protest, but not a dime to feed or clothe the needy amongst us. And the wealthy in town, no way are they going to help. Oprah... $2.7 billion....Ellen...$450 million....Ty Warner... $2.9 billion....Katie Perry... $330 million....Julia Louis-Dreyfus.... $250 million..... yet the Unity Shoppe is struggling. Thanks Hollywood types.

oceandrew Oct 01, 2019 06:38 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

@11:38 AM... one thing you fail to mention in your critique of those you don't approve of and judge so harshly is how much you have donated to the Unity Shoppe over the years. No, don't bother... no point making the addendum now as it'd be a fabrication anyway. It's super easy telling others what they should do but leading by example is a trait approaching extinction.

a-1574471038 Oct 01, 2019 01:04 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

12:53 - oh please, give it a rest. You criticize "woke people" and "Hollywood types," while also calling protesters "pathetic." If that's not anti-liberal, then I'm a monkey's uncle. And yes, I AM for taxing the rich to help the poor, but you are repeatedly missing my point. You criticize liberal actions (protesting) and philosophy (being "woke"), yet in the same breath, you also criticize the rich (Oprah, et al and "Hollywood types") for not helping the less fortunate, which is something conservatives are well known for (not helping the poor).

a-1574471038 Oct 01, 2019 12:53 PM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

How is this post "anti liberal" rhetoric? Why are you politicizing? If anything, it's pointing out the hypocrisy among those identified. The point is, with all the wealth in this town how is the Unity Shoppe failing, especially considering how many people claim to care about the less fortunate? Plus, it sounds to me like this person, if you want to politicize, is actually for taxing the rich to help the poor so I don't get your take on this.

a-1574471038 Oct 01, 2019 11:46 AM
Unity Shoppe Temporarily Closes Free Store Due to Financial Woes

@11:38 - Let me get this straight.... you think the wealthy among us should be supporting the less fortunate? Does your passion for the rich helping the poor extend to taxes as well? Judging by your thinly veiled anti-liberal rhetoric, it seems you might be inclined to also be anti-taxing the rich. So which is it?

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