January 20, 2021
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Renovating a gift shop with a cause

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
April 3, 2020

Shoppers at Sweet Pea Gift Shoppe, an entirely volunteer run, 501(c)3 non-profit organization benefiting Sonoma County Seniors, may have noticed the fresh updates the store is sporting recently. The new interior paint, signage and fixtures were all made possible by a $4,000 grant from the Rohnert Park Foundation small grants program. Volunteers hope the new signage will make the shop more visible and help alter perceptions of the store.

“Because it’s at the senior center it gets that stigma that it might just be little hand knit booties,” says Shelly Melville, one of the volunteers at the shop. “But it’s an awesome little gift shop. Everything in there is handmade. It’s all from Sonoma County artisans, over 100 different vendors sharing their wares there.”

The store was first established in 1987, and sells everything from baby clothing, accessories, and blankets; to handmade jewelry; to housewares; to pottery, ceramics and glass items; to woodworked objects such as hand crafted bowls, cutting boards, and toys; to tote bags and knitted and crocheted items. One can even find scarves, hats, blankets, pillows and jewelry that showcase Bay Area sports teams. 

“You have to be a Sonoma County resident to be a consignor and then the consignor names their price,” explains Melville. “They get 75 percent and 25 percent goes to the shop. We’re a non-profit that benefits Sonoma County seniors.”

After paying for the expenses of running the store, the revenues from the 25 percent consignor costs goes to a variety of organizations. One cause the store is especially fond of donating to is the Silver Paws program through the Animal Shelter League of Rohnert Park, a veterinary assistance program meant to help low-income seniors with health care for their pets. The program is available to qualifying seniors who are residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati who can use the funds for veterinary expenses that they cannot afford.

Melville encourages any interested consignors or volunteers to contact the shop or visit during their hours, Monday through Friday, 10 to 2 p.m., at 6800 Hunter Dr. in Rohnert Park inside the senior center. Or, the next time a need comes up for a unique, one-of-a-kind gift, visit the shop that does a lot of good in the community.

“It was such a great opportunity to get that grant and have the shop look refreshed,” says Melville. “Without it we’d still be plugging along but we’re going to be plugging along looking really good now! Advertising is so expensive and we can’t afford to advertise so getting the word out that the Sweet Pea Gift Shoppe is even there is helpful. The prices are unbelievable and you can get the cutest something for anybody in there!”