The HumanKind Fair Trade store in downtown San Luis Obispo is expanding later this month, taking over space now occupied by Bello Mundo Café, which is moving down the street in order to expand its operation too.
Here’s a closer look at each expansion:
The nonprofit will add 400 square feet to the current 1,000-square-foot building it’s renting at 982 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo. It will be closed for the remodel from Sept. 19 to Sept. 23, re-opening Sept. 24. A grand opening is planned for Oct. 10.
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The store is budgeting $6,000 for the remodel, including removing part of the wall between the two buildings, repainting, redoing the floor and adding new displays. It plans to do the work as sustainably as possible, using reclaimed materials and recycled goods.
“The great thing about this expansion is that we’re going to gain a lot more street exposure, we’ll have more of a front window display and… more presence from the sidewalk,” said LynAnne Wiest, store manager. Wiest is one of two paid full-time employees; the store also has a team of 25 volunteers who each help a couple of times a month.
Wiest said the additional space will allow the store to display its growing selection of clothing from India, Nepal and Peru that’s designed for American sizes – as well as other items, which in turn should boost their sales and profits.
Sales last year were about $260,000, the highest the store has ever seen, Wiest said. Sales have increased on average 15 percent a year from January 2011 through December 2014, said Joan L. Parker, treasurer of HumanKind’s board.
Moreover, the nonprofit reported a 27 percent increase in profit over the past year, Parker noted, “which has given us the funds and confidence to move into the Bello Mundo space."
The store donates a large portion of its profits to local nonprofit organizations and invites them to host benefit nights in the store, during which 20 percent of the evening’s sales go to the charity.
Wiest estimates that the store donated around $4,000 in monetary value and merchandise to charities last year.
The rest of the profits are invested back into the store, Wiest said, noting that as revenue grows, the more they can invest in other businesses and support artisans in other countries.
Bello Mundo Café
The café is moving two doors down the street into a 2,800-square-foot space at 974 Monterey St. It’s expected to open there by Sept. 15, depending on inspections, according to owner Jonathan Stauf.
Renovations have taken about three months, he said, including work to expose the original brick walls and build their own furniture. Friends and employees have helped him do most of the work, Stauf said, declining to disclose his investment.
The new location will feature large seating areas with wood furniture, a study bar, a large storage area, bathrooms and Wi-Fi. It will also have a full bakery kitchen, and offer more bakery items, Stauf said.
Although he declined to disclose annual sales, Stauf said the café has experienced steady growth since opening four years ago. It has a staff of eight, both full and part-time. Stauf said he plans to slowly increase staff in the new location.