Sunday, April 11, 2010

Behind the scenes at the ARC warehouse, part two.

So you may have read my last blog, in which I discussed my recent tour of ARC, a major Denver thrift chain.

As I mentioned, ARC's warehouse and stores are amazing places, filled to bursting with thrifty treasures, a skilled management team, a giving mission and generous, content employees.

I touched briefly on ARC's cavernous warehouse filled with well organized thrift waiting to be distributed to its stores. Here's another shot of one teeny section of the warehouse.

The warehouse is really quite impressive, not only for the sheer volume and contents, but for the organization required to store and move the merch efficiently.

But that's not all.

It's not all about getting merch to stores. The warehouse also is the place where items that didn't sell are organized and readied to be shipped to overseas markets that love All Things American.

Overseas markets are particularly partial to baseball caps and shoes. So it's fairly safe to say that the Rockies cap and the Adidas you donated to ARC may eventually wind up on the head or feet of someone thousands of miles away, worn by someone whose language you can't even pronounce.

The folks at the warehouse create huge containers of shoes, hats, clothing, housewares, and off they go.

Here's how they compress the clothing, which will then be placed in a shipping container and distributed all over the world:

But it doesn't stop there.

ARC partners with numerous associations and organizations to sell cars. Here's Kathy, showing me all the letterheads of the organizations they assist with car sales.

Seems like a lot, but look. The stationary takes up a whole wall.

There are photos that line this room that show some of the cars ARC has assisted in selling. Some cars are classics, from antique roadsters to tour busses.

Everybody wins.

In addition to a precision shipping and receiving operation and car sales area, the warehouse also is the nerve center for drivers who pick up donations, and there's a call center populated with people who get the ball rolling by scheduling donation pick-ups.

The warehouse is an energizing, busy place, and the energy seems to spring from the eventual outcome of all their efforts: giving back.

I know retail. And I never felt this level of purpose toward a larger end result than I did at ARC's warehouse. Because the people who work at ARC know that ultimately they're helping people, namely the developmentally disadvantaged. ARC folks know that the discards we send overseas will benefit a completely divergent, appreciative population. And ARC's eye toward environmentalism is the cherry on top of the tasty thrifty sundae they've crafted so beautifully.

I'll blog later about what retail chains do with their unwanted merchandise. It's not a pretty story, especially when we all know there are people all over the world who would gladly take America's discards.

And I do have a bit more to say about ARC's retail operation, specifically the location I was privileged to tour.

Long and short, ARC is first in line where we all need to stand.

It's about helping those who are less fortunate. Recycling. Giving back.

From what I could tell, folks at ARC are all about the Mission. And the mission, in this case, is helping, recycling, giving back.

It's a very consciousness-driven business model. And it's a model we can all learn from.

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