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There aren't too many people who open a business with the intent of giving away all the profits. But for Margaret Sandora, that's the entire point.
On Wednesday, Aug. 15, Sandora opens the doors at Past Reflections, an upscale resale clothing store at 3748 Grand Blvd. But unlike most businesses, Past Reflections isn't a for-profit enterprise.
Instead, the 41-year-old Sandora has registered the company as a 501(c)(3) charity - and she's giving away all of the profits from the business to the Haymarket Center, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Chicago. She says she's not even taking a salary and all employees will be volunteers.
"I knew whatever I did, I wanted to do something for someone else," said Sandora."I want someone else to reap the benefits from it."
Past Reflections is about more than just previously worn clothes, shoes and accessories for men, women and children. You could say the name of the store is a reflection of Sandora's reasons for creating it.
Seven years ago, her husband of 25 years, Danny, decided to face his own substance addiction. Sandora, at the time, worked in restaurant management and as an event coordinator. Danny reached rock bottom and entered a residential treatment facility.
"It changed our life," said Margaret, who can get emotional talking about the impact of that decision and its future, beneficial effect.
Margaret also knew that many, many people are touched by addiction to drugs or alcohol, but that it is a disease that doesn't engender much in the way of benevolent attention.
"Everybody knows somebody with some kind of addiction," said Sandora, who lives in Brookfield with her husband and two children.
"We do walks for cancer, but no one thinks of those struggling with a substance abuse [problem] that you can get from your local store."
Sandora chose Haymarket Center as the beneficiary of her store's profits after talking with representatives of that group.
"It hit home," said Sandora. Her family was lucky that her husband's health insurance covered his treatment. "Ninety percent of their clients are uninsured, off the streets. They need help."
The timing for moving her life in a new direction came seven months ago, when Sandora was laid off from her job. At first, she eyed a storefront on 31st Street but later settled on the former Le Grand Dcor space in downtown Brookfield.
The storefront's rooms are divided into sections for men's, women's and children's clothing, a room for purses, and an area for items being sold on consignment. There's also jewelry.
The clothing is both casual and formal and is priced to be affordable. The most expensive non-consignment item is about $30. The store accepts clothing donations, as long as the items are not ripped, stained or torn, said Sandora.
All of the racks in store were donated, and a donor ponied up the first month's rent. Sandora is looking for other donors to help cover the five months' rent remaining on her initial lease.
She offers a couple of ongoing incentives to shop. On Tuesdays, anyone bringing in a non-perishable food item gets 15 percent off a purchase. The food will be donated to a local food pantry.
On Thursdays, anyone bringing in items that can be sent to servicemen and women overseas will also receive a 15-percent discount.
Sandora acknowledged the fact that the Helping Hand thrift store is just a short walk down the block, but she believes the two stores will complement each other.
"We have similar stuff, but mine is more upper scale," said Sandora. "I think we'll be like peanut butter and jelly."
Past Reflections is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.