JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – A new shop in Downtown Jamestown is looking to spotlight local and disability owned businesses, while also, providing an opportunity to train a new inclusive workforce.
“We were able to be fortunate enough to receive a grant to allow us to find a way to open a store to highlight locally made products. So that was originally the first concept of the store, so find local vendors and local people that make things in our area and sell them all under one roof,” says Terri Johnson, Director of Employment at The Resource Center.
At the corner of Third and Cherry Streets in Downtown Jamestown, CHQ Plus is a store filled with opportunity.
“We tie it into our mission because some of the vendors that are here are owned by people with disabilities or the products are made by people with disabilities. And the other way is that this is a training program for people in one of our pre-vocational programs and so people come here each day to do different work experiences and learn retail work in hopes of being able to go and find a job in the community,” explains Johnson.
Those with an intellectual or developmental disabilities learn job skills in a controlled environment, with help of coaches and store manager Andi Shierling.
“The coach works on, of course the first thing is greeting the customer. Letting them know exactly what the store is all about because sometimes that’s hard for the individuals to definitely explain. So they definitely work with customer service, help packaging items, they do a lot of different types of cleaning skills. Basically, an everyday job,” says Shierling.
After the trainees build their skills, they are matched with one of over 100 local employers in hopes of finding a long-term job.
CHQ Plus has a variety of goods for customers, including pet items, coffee, lotions, soaps, and apparel.
“Started with the store opening with twelve vendors. We are now at 22 vendors in the store, and still working at it,” says Shierling.
Local vendors in and around the Chautauqua County area are encouraged to get in touch with the store to see if their products are a good fit.
“People are used to going to the big shopping malls, and you can come in here and shop at 21 different stores in one location,” says Johnson.
The two top vendors are disability owned, including White Cane Coffee and Nolan’s Nest that sells bath bombs, soaps, and more.
“Our coffee company that we sell is local and the owner of the company is blind and so all of our coffee labels are written in braille, and some of them have her story written on the back of it, and I think that’s one of our top vendors,” touts Johnson.
The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. However, they will be open until 5 p.m. on Small Business Saturday, this weekend. CHQ gift cards are accepted too.