August 30, 2010; Source: The Daytona Beach News-Journal | Usually any story about the recession that mentions a nonprofit often has bad news to share — but not this one. Because the owner of a struggling retail and professional office park in Ormond Beach, Fla., couldn’t find a suitable commercial tenant to take up his offer of free rent for a year, the space instead went to two nonprofits. Kidds aRe First and ROCK Fashions are teaming up to use the free space to give away clothing to foster and homeless children. Lore Bledsoe, developer and owner of MBA Business Center, where the free-clothing boutique will open on October 1, said he thinks business owners were reluctant to take him up on his offer out of fear of the cost of setting up a new operation, hiring employees, and then worrying whether they could even recoup those costs in a down economy. But because the new tenants rely on donations of clothing and volunteer help, the offer of free rent suits them perfectly. Previously, ROCK Fashions kept donated clothing in storage units and made them available once a month at a participating church. Now clothing will be offered during business hours at the retail park. “Many foster kids come to foster parents with little or nothing. We want to give them the opportunity to go shopping (for free) like at a store at the mall and to have clothes so they fit in and don’t stand out,” ROCK Fashions President Barbara Shoner said. Speaking like any ambitious entrepreneur, Rachel Arazashvili, executive director of Kidds aRe First, says she hopes the operation is such a success that they “outgrow this and be in a larger place” next year.— Bruce Trachtenberg
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