The latest resale boutique to open in Ascension Parish has a familiar face and a community-oriented mission.
Treasures of the Arc is operated by Community Opportunities — The Arc of East Ascension, an organization that works to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families through services such as job training programs, independent living programs and respite, and adult day care.
The shop, 108 E. Ascension St., in Gonzales reopened June 30 after an approximate monthlong merchandise renovation.
Although the shop’s name bills it as a resale boutique, said LaDonna Sanders, COEA executive secretary, the shop had grown used to accepting rundown thrift store items.
Many of the donations were not fit to sell and had to be thrown out or set aside for the garage sales the shop holds during the year, Sanders said.
Shop employees are grateful for all the donations they receive but briefly closed the store to upgrade merchandise and make sure the shop sold items that reflected its “boutique” name, Sanders said.
The store features men’s suits and clothing, bridal gowns and prom dresses, children’s clothes and shoes, housewares, purses and new jewelry purchased by Treasures of the Arc employees.
The store also has a sale section with items at drastically reduced prices.
“We take pride in what we do because of the individuals,” Sanders said. “They’re the reason behind everything.”
Depending on their disabilities, COEA members are provided job training for work in the janitorial and lawn service fields, light office work and even pecan shelling, Sanders said.
Working at a retail store like Treasures of the Arc teaches skills beyond just counting money, Sanders said. It also teaches those with disabilities how to interact with people in the community and builds self-respect, Sanders said.
“Just talking to people gets them on a different level,” Sanders said.
Although the shop is making more money than it was this time last year, the shop is not exactly a moneymaker, said Dennis Stevens, COEA business operations manger.
“COEA is supporting Treasures because of what it does for our individuals,” Stevens said. “The whole idea is to get our individuals into the community.”
That’s why Treasures of the Arc is looking for a corporate sponsor to provide monetary donations to help the shop cover utility bills, rent and salaries for its employees, Sanders said.
“I just want to make sure this store continues to prosper,” Sanders said.
All donations are tax-deductible, and the store is especially looking for more donations, especially new or gently worn jewelry to sell, Sanders said.
“Quality donations are much appreciated,” Stevens said.
Niki Stephens, of Prairieville, visited Treasures of the Arc recently and found a purse, a shirt and a kitchen chopping utensil.
“I like it,” Stephens said. “Everyone is so friendly.”
The store’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.