New business designed to help local charities opens to big crowd in Dutch Square Mall

The Giving Tree is a thrift store with a twist, and that twist could be a boon to local charities.

The crowd lined up for The Giving Tree's grand opening Saturday at Dutch Square mall (photo provided)

The crowd lined up for The Giving Tree’s grand opening Saturday at Dutch Square mall. (photo provided)

The new business held its grand opening Saturday, and a line of more than 100 eager customers stretched down the halls of Dutch Square Mall all the way to the AMC theater.

The twist is that The Giving Tree will partner each week with a local charity or community organization and donate 50 percent of the week’s net proceeds from all the store’s sales to the group’s cause. Members of the groups who benefit will help gather items to be sold at the store.

Owner Ken Martin says another difference between The Giving Tree and other thrift stores is the merchandise.

“The main thing we’re focused on is the quality of our donations,” he said. “There’s no junk in here.”

Martin also said his business is designed to cater to smaller groups as well as larger charities.

“The threshold is really low to qualify,” he said, adding that he would work with church groups raising funds for mission trips, sports teams hoping for new uniforms, or organizations working on larger projects. “We want to help the community.”

The Giving Tree system allows the fundraising groups to see the results of their labor, as the donated items they collect go straight to the store.

“They can come see it,” Martin said. “It’s a circle, everybody helps everybody.” The idea, he said, is that the better the items gathered by the groups, the better sales will be, meaning more money for the groups and the store in the 50/50 weekly split.

Giving Tree owner Ken Martin with his son, daughter, and a friend (photo by Allen Wallace)

Giving Tree owner Ken Martin with his son, daughter and a friend (photo by Allen Wallace)

Martin said he’s gotten a lot of support from the community already. He has groups lined up for months to come, but wants to find even more. BlueChoice HealthPlan Medicaid sponsored Saturday’s event and gave away backpacks for kids, and Walgreens staff  were on hand to provide free health screenings.

“We filled almost 10,000 square feet” with items donated by the community for the store opening, Martin said. He hopes to eventually open Giving Tree stores in Greenville and Charleston as well.

The Giving Tree is in Dutch Square Mall and will be open during normal mall hours daily. More information about the store and how local groups can partner is available here.

Categories: Business