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Disabled Former LPN Seeks Business Start Up Grant For Community Thrift Store

by Laura Belcastro
(Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

I am 45 years old, female and married; it will be 35 years this year.

I have a wonderful and supportive family of two children, two grandchildren and a wonderful daughter-in-law.

My daughter is 35 and a writer. She lives in Pennsylvania and takes care of my parents who are 79 and 81.

My son is married to Nicole and they have my two beautiful grandchildren, Mattie Jr. is 12 years old, is going into middle school and plays football. Taylor is six, is entering first grade and is a handful.

I worked as nurse in the geriatric setting for 18 years as an LPN and loved every moment of it. I have experience in retail also.

Our life is simple but happy. Hubby just lost his job of 19 years at RG Steel, which was at one time Bethlehem Steel. This is why I want to open a store of my own.

We have two dogs. Cassie is a Shetland sheepdog and Babe is an American Bulldog, mixed with a Pit Bull. She is as mild as a kitten and seven months old.

In the year 2000 I began having extreme migraines and experiencing chest pain. The headaches became so bad they would take away all feeling to the left side of my body.

I began to have seizures triggered by the headaches and stress. I was hospitalized multiple times for the seizures and headaches.

Eventually my primary doctor said I had to stop working for at least three months to give my body a chance to heal.

During those months, however, the condition worsened, the seizures increased in numbers. Hospitalization began to increase, medications began to increase, memory became worse.

I became deconditioned which means my muscles became very weak, so much so that I had to be admitted to a nursing home for short rehab to learn to walk all over again.

At this time they recommended that I start looking toward disability. Years passed. I had to move in with my parents for a while to be monitored closely.

Medication finally started to work and my condition began to settle. My physicians decided that I could not work and I was encouraged to go on disability, to my dismay.

In time I began to have some other problems. I went into a coma for seven days at which time they found out I had Addison's Disease.

Finally I was granted disability. I sat at home day after day, becoming depressed. I wanted to do something but had to avoid stressful situations, so I found a small thrift shop to volunteer in and I was in love.

The disability put a great hardship on us financially because now hubby became the entire breadwinner for the two years we had to wait out the disability.

It was nice again to participate in the household finances once again. My home became a mess. My husband could not keep up the house and work. I was a zombie. Just getting out of bed was a chore.

My children were young and went to their grandparents' houses for meals. Luckily they live close. In fact, my family had to take over everything about my life.

I was so doped up to remain calm that I only remember getting up and going to bed for many years.

I lost my driver's license because of the uncontrolled seizures. This hurt because taking my children anywhere was now not possible. Grocery shopping became impossible, which became another burden on hubby.

I was on 22 different medications. Luckily my hubby had insurance so the most I paid for medication was $30. Between the two of us we spent $250 a month on medications.

I have since had the physicians cut back on a lot of medications. I was able to see things more clearly and could work about the home and care for my loved ones a whole lot better.

The Disability I receive took me two years to get. For some of my friends, it did take longer. I feel lucky in that way.

I am now trying to get grants to open a store and I hope it happens. I want to get back into the workforce, but due to illnesses no one will hire me.

I am looking for grants that will assist me in getting my business open and going. I am trying hard. I have been working on my business plan, checking locations, gathering inventory, checking on licensing and so on. I just need someone to help give me a push in the right direction.

I want to open a thrift store that I plan to call The Helping Hands Thrift Store. In this store we are going to sell clothing, shoes, coats, hats, gloves, scarves, socks, and so on.

We also plan to sell small appliances in the future, then later, larger furniture. Our products will be priced low to start with because we're in an area where many people are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

We expect a good rate of growth right from the start. Our founder hopes to implement effective marketing campaigns that will cater to individuals who enjoy vintage (used) clothing within the target market.

We are looking for $25,000 of debt funds for the first year of business. Our founder owns 100% of the store. In the first year we hope to pull in $100,000 in sales.

We estimate our operating costs will be $10,000, EBITDA will be $10,000, Taxes, Interest, and Depreciation $12,000 and net profit $14,000. These of course are estimated numbers.

When preparing our marketing plan we looked at the fact that our thrift store will maintain an extensive marketing campaign that will ensure maximum visibility for the business in the targeted market.

We will maintain a committed program for divesting the Thrift Shops inventories through store participation. We will use flyers, local newspaper advertisements, word of mouth and a website to help with our advertising.

Our management team will consist of:

Senior Management - Laura Belcastro
Operation Manager - David Belcastro
Administrative Manager - Nicole Catadli
Customer Service Manager - Doug Cornelius
Financial Manager - Nicole Belcastro
Advertising Supervisor - Matthew Belcastro Sr.
Volunteer Supervisor - Jean Kramme
Sales Associate - Matthew Belcastro Jr.

Profit and Loss (First Year)

Sales: $75,000
Cost of goods sold: $25,000
Gross margin: 0.00%
Operating Income: $68,000
Payroll: N/A
General and Administrative: N/A
Marketing Expenses: $300
Professional fees and Licensure: $200
Insurance costs: $2,000
Travel and Vehicle cost: N/A
Rent and Utilities: $105,056
Miscellaneous Costs: $4,915
Payroll taxes: N/A
Federal Income Tax: $50,000
State Income Tax: $10,000
Interest Expense: $3,567
Depreciation Expense: $4,000

Mission Statement

Our store is to serve the community by selling quality new and used items at reasonable prices. Everyone who comes to the store will be treated with dignity and respect. We intend to develop new friendships and have our friends return to the store to shop over and over again. We will help all persons no matter what their ability to pay is. We are here to help our community in their time of need, with the hope that they will return the favor someday.

Business Philosophy:

Our business philosophy will be to build lasting relationships with our customers by offering a pleasant and warm shopping experience where they can feel good about themselves and us. Before going into a major retail store and paying highly marked up prices, stop by and look around at our wide variety of selected goods.

Target Customers:

Middle to lower class but not excluding the higher class either.

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Feb 07, 2013
Try this
by: Kim Hubbard

I read your story and appreciate the way you seem to stay positive despite your circumstances. I and my husband have cerebral palsy. I encourage you to visit the website below because it will guide you through a government website that has grants that many don't even know exist!! God bless you in this effort! Kim


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