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Store owners shares profits with nonprofits

November 25, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Although her heart remains with the Shenandoah Women's Center, the owner of a women's clothing shop in downtown Martinsburg was willing to share the wealth.

A fixed percentage of many sales at Day' Javu, a clothing shop that includes consignment items, is donated to the women's center, Boys & Girls Club, Hospice of the Panhandle, Berkeley Senior Services or the United Way.

Dana Knowles, owner of the store, said those who bring consignment items to the store can designate which, if any, local nonprofit the percentage should go to.

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"Everybody wins. I win because I don't have to fork out my money for inventory," Knowles, of Martinsburg, said. "The nonprofits win because they don't have to do anything. They just get a check."

Knowles soon expects to give the women's center a check for around $500. It was the first organization she started reserving a percentage of sales for, since the center has a mission in which she firmly believes.

"I'm very passionate about it, about helping the women in our community," said Knowles, 44.

Along with her generosity, Knowles also has a keen business sense.

"My goal in all of this is to help these nonprofits make thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars a year," she said.

The more money they make, the more Knowles makes, she said.

Her shop carries upscale women's clothing, in sizes ranging from 0 to 2x. She also sells jewelry, hats, bags, shoes, coats and other accessories.

Donations or consignments are accepted only by appointment.

As she grows older, Knowles said she has learned that making money should not be a business owner's sole driving force.

"I'm in business because I'm doing something I love, something I care about and something I have passion for," said Knowles, who lives, works, shops, banks and dines in her community. "I want to give back to Martinsburg."

When Knowles first conceived of opening the shop, she planned to buy used clothing in bulk. Not long before opening, however, a Shenandoah Women's Center employee mentioned that the center frequently received nice donations but that often they were out of season or could not be worn by women using the center.

With no money or manpower to open the store, the women's center couldn't put the donations to good use and suggested Knowles take them.

"I said no at first and it took me about 24 hours to say, 'Am I crazy?'" Knowles said.

In keeping with her principles, Knowles said that the women's center first sorts through all donations and keeps what might be needed. She takes the rest, after the donor has signed a form indicating the clothing can be used in whatever manner the center deems appropriate.

It didn't take long for others to start asking that a portion of their clothing's sales be donated to different nonprofits, with the list of beneficiaries growing to five.

"I'm stopping at five. I can't do any more," Knowles said.

Much of the current merchandise was purchased by Knowles, but she said she hopes to transition to being a store consisting only of donations within six months to a year.

A percentage of some merchandise now in stock is not given to any nonprofit because it is merchandise that Knowles bought. Once everything is donations, however, every price tag will have a small handwritten notation designating to which nonprofit the percentage should be directed.

"When you give things away, much is received," Knowles said.

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