Owners donate pop-up store proceeds to local non-profits


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"Merci" — a sentiment known in English language as "thank you."

These are the exact words several local do-gooders had for Catherine Champion and Sheila Davisson after benefiting from Merci's profits.

Champion and Davisson, the owners of Catherine's and Revival, opened Merci — a recently closed pop-up store at 30 S. Clinton St. — in hopes of raising money through sales for charity. Champion said this store won't be the last.

"It's a really accessible way to give back to the community," she said, and the next store will most likely be called Merci again. "[It will most likely be] in the spring or fall — that way people can clean out their closets."

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program, the United Action for Youth, Shelter House, and Public Space One collectively received nearly $3,000 in donations from Merci's sales.

Champion said 10 percent of all proceeds before expenses were donated to the charities of the customers' choice, and if the person chose to donate the clothes free of charge, 50 percent of all proceeds were donated.

"Every day, we have organizations come in here and ask to have gift certificates to auction off, [and I thought] there's got to be a better way," she said.

Crissy Canganelli, the Shelter House executive director, said she is grateful for the donations.

"Not only did this raise money for Shelter House, but it also raised awareness and provided an opportunity for individuals who may not feel they can contribute be able to contribute in a real way," she said.

Canganelli said the $836.22 donation Shelter House received will enable the facility to sponsor someone at the shelter for a month.

Cathy Pugh, the development director of the United Youth for Action, said donations for nonprofit organizations help, especially now, when many are struggling.

"Here in today's economy, nonprofits like ours struggle," she said. "We are pedaling pretty hard trying to provide services to the community, but sometimes our message doesn't get out as clearly as we want it to.

United Youth for Action received a $710.51 donation.

Champion has opened numerous pop-up stores in the last year, including December, 30 S. Clinton St. and Valentine, 105 S. Dubuque St..

Dee Dixon, the assistant executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, said many of the donations assist people in getting back on the right track.

"[Merci's nearly $1,000] donation is critical to help families move to the next step of their lives," she said. "… It helps our women, men, and children show their best selves when going back into the community."

Champion said the 30-day store sold approximately 1,700 units of clothing, jewelry, and accessories, at an average price of $20.

"I think Iowa City is a very internal community," she said, referring to the number of donations and units sold. "It really supports people in need."

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