WHEATON – Local shop Family Tree Resale hopes its recent move from Glen Ellyn to Wheaton will benefit area nonprofits and schools.
Family Tree is a for-profit store with a charitable mission, said owner Elizabeth Basa.
"That was very much on purpose," she said. "We want to do business as well as charity ... Some resale shops say they are a nonprofit but still very much make money. So I made the decision not to be just so I can sleep better at night."
Family Tree opened its original location in Glen Ellyn five years ago as a registered Illinois charity trustee, Basa said, and now partners with 14 regional programs to provide clothing and more to families in need.
When dropping off items, donors can choose a partner organization to receive credit for the donation. Each bag is generally worth $10 in credit, she said. Programs then give their clients a voucher to cover some of the cost of their purchase, which comes out of the organization's pot of collected money.
The credit from donors who do not designate a program is assigned by staff based on need, she said. Customers can also shop on behalf of a partner organization, with 10 percent of the sale going into its credit pool.
Across five years and two locations in Glen Ellyn and Chicago, Family Tree has covered more than $65,000 in expenses.
The in-store program partnership has become especially important for children, Basa said. Local students in need avoid the possible embarrassment of getting donated clothes through their school, where old clothing could be recognized by its previous owners.
Many are more open to receiving assistance with an extra layer of anonymity, she said.
"It can be a humiliating experience," she said. "I think we let them have the dignity and anonymity to get the help they need."
The Lombard resident said there is no commitment necessary from participating groups, only an email expressing interest.
The shop moved to its new 5,600-square-foot space at 310 E. Geneva Road because its previous location was rented out to another retailer, Basa said. However, she said the staff "felt right at home" in the new city.
"We've gotten nothing but positivity," she said. "I think things happen for a reason, and the space fits like a glove and the people are so nice."
Pam Stella, a longtime customer from Glen Ellyn, said at the store's Aug. 14 ribbon cutting that while she will miss the convenience of the former location, she will remain loyal thanks to the quality customer service.
"All the folks that work here are all really, really kind and generous," she said. "And I appreciate what they do."
For more information, visit www.familytreeresale.com.
Family Tree's partner organizations
• Glen Ellyn School District 41
• Community Consolidated School District 89
• Community Unit School District 200
• Glenbard Township High School District 87
• Lombard School District 44
• Queen Bee School District 16
• Faith Lutheran Church
• Women's Choice Services
• Teen Parent Connection
• B.R. Ryall YMCA
• People's Resource Center
• First Church of Lombard
• Hamdard Center
• Des Plaines Islamic Center
Note to readers: In a previous version of this story, Elizabeth Basa's place of residence was misstated. She is a resident of Lombard. Suburban Life regrets the error.