Partnership Between The Wardrobe and Jomar Will Increase Clothing Donations to Help Those in Need

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(PHILADELPHIA) — The Marie Kondo craze, quarantine isolation, and the desire to give back to our communities has led to a perfect storm of closet cleanouts. Americans want to put their “trash-to-treasure” to good use — but what happens when organizations with the best intentions simply can’t handle the donation load?

These treasures have been the staple of The Wardrobe’s (formerly known as Career Wardrobe) nonprofit organization for 25 years. The bags, bins, and boxes full of gently used clothing and accessories have helped more than 90,000 people transitioning to work and independence with the clothing they need to look, feel, and present their best selves to the world.

Each year, organizations and individuals clean out their closets and storerooms to donate more than $2 million worth of clothing to the nonprofit organization that originally started by outfitting low-income women for job interviews. But even with three service sites and two resale stores in the Philadelphia region, The Wardrobe couldn’t keep up with the influx of donations in this crucial time.

“It is always frustrating to talk to a retailer or donor who has an amazing donation for us and have to tell them we don’t have the capacity to handle what they have to give,” says executive director Sheri Cole from The Wardrobe’s newly relocated 9,000-square-foot office in Philadelphia.

When looking for their new home, the organization prioritized a space which could serve as a convenient receiving point for these charitable donations — parking, loading capacity, ground floor, and open space for processing and storing donations. But she knew it still wouldn’t be enough.

Then a call came from a former Wardrobe Boutique manager now working with Jomar, a 50-year-old family-owned discount department store in Philadelphia with the opposite problem.

“To put it bluntly, we are the yin to their yang,” says Jessica Rennard, Vice President of Operations with Jomar. “We can’t keep our sales floor and online wholesale business full!”

“The Wardrobe provides job readiness to clients — we need employees,” she says. “The Wardrobe has inventory needs, and Jomar can fill that inventory void. The Wardrobe has to turn away clothing donations due to space issues, and we have the space to take it for them!”

Now the two organizations are officially joining forces in what might be a first for the thrift industry, a formal partnership that aligns a non-profit and for-profit thrift store to be mutually beneficial. The charitable partnership increases The Wardrobe’s capacity to accept and use the influx of clothing and accessory donations, while Jomar keeps its retail and virtual stores well-stocked.

JoMar receives the large retail and corporate drive donations directly to their warehouse where employees will process donations. Whatever the nonprofit needs for its client services or resale stores comes back to them ready for the sales floor. And when restrictions from COVID19 pass, many of Jomar’s employees will be trained and sourced from The Wardrobe’s clients who are part of the organization’s customer service work experience program.

“In a time when we can’t have many volunteers on-site due to social distancing regulations, this collaboration is especially important,” Cole says. “Without Jomar’s partnership, we’d have to stop accepting donations because we’d be quickly overwhelmed.”

As a thrift business, Jomar understands the value of receiving, processing, and turning incoming inventory into sales products. The starting annual charitable contribution represents this value and makes Jomar the organization’s second-largest partner behind the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s PA WORKWEAR program which supports people transitioning to work from cash assistance.

The Wardrobe recently expanded its services to provide both professional and casual clothing to all genders to meet their clothing needs. They also send personally styled Wardrobe Boxes to those who can’t get to a physical location. Retailers with excess inventory to donate to The Wardrobe or corporations who are interested in engaging their employees or customers in a drive are encouraged to reach out to the partners via email drives@wardrobepa.org.

About The Wardrobe

The Wardrobe (formerly Career Wardrobe) is a nonprofit social enterprise that uses clothing to inspire change. Whether someone needs a suit for an interview, clothing to support their transition to independence or adulthood, or to affirm their gender identity, The Wardrobe is open to all. Shopping with The Wardrobe directly contributes to the mission of ending clothing insecurity.

The Wardrobe accepts clothing and accessories for any need (professional, casual, dressy) and all genders. The organization has instituted a “no contact” donation process where people can unload their cars into carts provided at each location and take a card with a link to their online donation form to receive a tax receipt.

The Wardrobe has locations throughout the Philadelphia region, visit www.wardrobepa.org to learn how to donate and shop to support your community.

About Jomar

Jomar is a family-owned Philadelphia-based discount department store offering up to 70% OFF regular department store prices. Inventory changes daily with brand name deliveries from the top department stores. Shop family fashion, fabric, and homegoods bargains at their four Philadelphia locations. Learn more at http://www.jomarstores.com/.

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