Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela — Jenifer Rose, founder and CEO of It’s My Community Store in Sparks, is using her business to give back to local non-profit groups and charities.
SPARKS — Jenifer Rose has been in the office supply business for 20 years and each day she comes to work she is reminded “Post-It notes are not very exciting.”
This year Rose used her experience and expertise in the trade to incorporate the It’s My Community Store, an office supply store with a unique foundation. The store is founded on the idea of giving back to the community and it gives up to 10 percent of every order placed to a charity or non-profit organization of the buyer’s choice.
“To me it was a question of how can I take my knowledge of this industry and my contacts within it and make a difference in people’s lives,” Rose, CEO of It’s My Community Store, said, “So that when I come to work everyday, it is not about selling a Post-It note, it is about a sick child getting something that they need or for an animal to get rescued.”
It’s My Community Store recently linked with the Builders Association of Northern Nevada (BANN), The Washoe County Medical Society Alliance (AWCMS) and the Nevada Association of Legal Services (NALS) as associations buyers can donate to. Rose said the businesses and people within each organization can now choose to donate to a familiar non-profit and know where the money is going.
“Now they can choose, for example, the Builders foundation and they can know that their association is going to put that money back into the community and they can feel like they took part in doing something good for the community,” Rose said. “We have the ability to make a huge impact by making a simple change in something that we are going to buy anyway.”
Rose said she has dealt with the hesitation that comes from potential customers who think the 10 percent used to buy any of her 8,000 items comes from a price increase on her items. In fact, she said her prices are lower than most competing markets and that none of those suppliers are giving up 10 percent of their revenue.
“We are not charging 10 percent more and then giving 10 percent back. A lot of people are assuming they are going to pay 10 percent more, and I can almost guarantee they won’t,” she said. “We are very committed to the giving portion, but not at the expense of the business. That is not what this is about.”
In a press release regarding the additional charities being added to the It’s My Community Store give-back program, the organizations said they are excited about the opportunity to partner with the business.
“Since the construction industry downturn in 2007, those in the building business are scrutinizing company expense line items for savings—this partnership will help all of them in a myriad of ways,” said Tina Laramie, director of membership for BANN. “Additionally, our organization’s philanthropic arm, the Builders Association Charity (BAC), will benefit in its quest to assist those in need.”
Rose said the charities and associations she has partnered with have been “supportive and excited” about being an option for her customers. It was not until Rose actually began reaching out to the non-profit organizations that she realized how much help each charity could really use.
“I had the idea in my head and I knew what I wanted to do. But when I really started to find out about all the charities and all the programs, I really didn’t even have any conception. I didn’t even realize the scale that we have now learned it is,” Rose said. “If we didn’t have these charities, I don’t know what we would do. There are so many more of them than you can even imagine. It has been a great learning experience and it keeps things in perspective.”
Rose said the ultimate goal for her company is to “turn it into something great for northern Nevada” before making it possible in every city across the nation. She said she is looking forward to offering her customers the chance to help local charities, even if it means she is bringing in a little less profit.
“As long as there are people willing to support something, then I am glad to give them an avenue to do so,” Rose said. “I don’t foresee (having to stop giving 10 percent to charities) happening. It would break my heart if it did. I have been doing this a lot of years and I could have lived with 10 percent less. I might not have lived as well, but I could have lived with 10 percent less.”