AVONDALE — This week, the team behind Monarch Thrift Shop will begin packing up the store after five years. But the store isn’t closing.
Monarch is leaving its storefront at 2866 N. Milwaukee Ave. and moving across the street to a larger spot at 2875 N. Milwaukee Ave. As part of the move, the Monarch crew is expanding its partnership with One Heart One Soul, a nonprofit founded by Mireya Fouché, the shop’s co-executive director.
One Heart One Soul helps youth experiencing homelessness through art and other programs. Monarch’s new shop will serve as the organization’s headquarters, with an art gallery and dedicated space for its training program.
“We want to make it more tangible and visible so our consumers know that the power of their dollar is going back to these programs housed in the organization,” Fouché said.
The expanded partnership was born out of the pandemic. Since founding One Heart One Soul in 2010, Fouché has relied on collaborations with other organizations to host events and programs. But those arrangements dried up during shutdowns, Fouché said.
Like other nonprofit leaders, Fouché pivoted to virtual workshops and dropoff events, but it wasn’t the same, she said.
“Our presence wasn’t there, and that’s the heart of the organization,” she said. “We realized we needed to have our own space so if something like this were to happen again, the youth who use our services would have a place to go.”
Merging Monarch Thrift Shop with One Heart One Soul was the natural solution, Fouché said. Serendipitously, Fouché and Monarch’s founder, Christa Clumpner, discovered the perfect storefront directly across the street.
The space had been vacant for a decade, but it used to house a thrift shop years ago, Fouché said. At 4,000 square feet, it was large enough to house Monarch and One Heart One Soul; Monarch’s current location is 2,700 square feet.
Fouché said they “jumped into action” and signed the lease about three weeks ago.
To prepare for the move and make room for fall inventory, the Monarch team hosted a storewide $1 sale most of last week. Monarch’s last day of business at 2866 N. Milwaukee Ave. was Saturday.
At the new shop, there will be even more clothing and home goods for shoppers to choose from. Fouché said they’re planning to roll out a plus-size clothing — or “curvacious” — section.
Next to the shop will be the One Heart One Soul art gallery showcasing acrylic paintings, photography and other art made by youth experiencing homelessness. A classroom for the organization’s training program will be situated in back.
Last year, Fouché launched a retail certification program to help youth experiencing homelessness get job training, and it brought Monarch and big-box retailers like Home Depot and Macy’s on board. That program will continue at the new shop, she said.
Clumpner and Fouché opened Monarch Thrift Shop in 2015 with three guiding principles: to rebuild lives through providing a safe space for people to shop, break the cycle of youth homelessness with programs and reduce recidivism by partnering with the Illinois Department of Corrections and, more recently, the Avondale Restorative Justice Community Court on job training.
The move will allow the Monarch team to further those goals, Fouché said. The shop will open in September.
“It feels really good … and hopeful,” Fouché said.
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