JCI adds to retail menu

09/23/2013 8:28 PM

09/23/2013 8:29 PM

Smithfield has a new used furniture store – one with cheap prices and one where each purchase gives back to the community.

Johnston County Industries on Thursday opened a store offering used office furniture and electronics. JCI is a nonprofit that provides job training and placement to people who have disadvantages or disabilities. At the store on North Bright Leaf Boulevard, clients can work for minimum wage while getting experience; profits go back into JCI’s programs.

The new store happened thanks to a large donation from Grifols, the pharmaceutical manufacturer on U.S. 70 Business near Clayton.

“We’re thrilled with this,” said Bill Sharek, president of JCI. “It was just an opportunity that fell into our laps.”

Sharek said Grifols was reorganizing its staff and replacing furniture; it offered the discarded furniture to JCI. The result is furniture store, which will be open only long enough to liquidate the current inventory.

Sharek said that will likely take until spring: Grifols donated about 20 tractor-trailer rigs worth of furniture.

Sharek expects the store to generate $40,000 to $50,000 in sales. He said JCI was blessed by Grifols’ generosity, which is allowing the nonprofit to offer its clients more work experience while raising money for programming.

The furniture store is an extension of JCI’s thrift shop, located next door on North Bright Leaf Boulevard. JCI also owns the Cyber Cafe. The eatery, in the Johnston Medical Mall in Smithfield, teaches the restaurant trade to the unemployed.

The thrift store, furniture store and cafe all provide job training, and their profits help support JCI’s mission, said Patricia Little, director of program services.

“This way we can provide training and employment opportunity for people with disadvantages,” Little said.

The thrift store employs four people part-time, Little said. The furniture store provides four more jobs.

The new store launched Thursday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew about 30 people from the community.

“It’s wonderful to see the turnout from the community, the support; to see our clients working, engaging, happy,” Little said. “It’s a great opportunity for the people that we serve.”

Christopher Boyette, 23, of Clayton works at the furniture store. Boyette said JCI’s programs are teaching him many valuable skills while also allowing him to meet people.

“(JCI) gives us a chance to go into the community and enjoy ourselves,” Boyette said.

Shoreice Richardson, 23, of Selma said he’s excited to be working at the furniture store, where he too is learning valuable skills.

“It just helps us do so much stuff,” Richardson said. “I just can’t name it all.”

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