One woman’s passion for social service has prompted her to open a pop-up retail shop in Greenport – devoted to giving back.
General Good, located across from the IGA, partners with more than 30 businesses that donate funds, shelter, food and jobs at equitable wages to underrepresented or underpaid individuals.
Owner Chinita Hard, from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, said her business model is simple: She purchases home goods, apparel, accessories, candy and artwork from international, national and local sellers, most of which give back to the greater good. At the end of her lease in September, she said, she’ll use her profits to donate to a charity that supports water quality in Peconic Bay. She has not yet selected the charity, she said.
“When I was thinking about the pop-up — that’s a for-profit, retail thing — I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have both come together … and showcase something that’s from communities that needed to be supported in some way?’”
As a 10-year teacher at the Spence School in New York City, Ms. Hard said she’s always been involved with social impact.
“I planned activities with my students that focused on community service,” she said.
She even plans her vacation trips around giving back. When Super typhoon Haiyan wiped out the city of Tacloban in the Philippines in 2013, Ms. Hard traveled to the desolate town with her family and taught natives to make noodles as a means for livelihood.
“Yes, we could just write a check,” she said. “But there’s something selfless about taking my kids to go experience it, meet people and see what needs to be done. … It’s like muscle memory.”
The idea for a pop-up, she said, was partly inspired by a friend who has opened a pop-up jewelry store each summer for the past seven years in Ontario, Canada, and friend Father Andrew O’Connor of Saint Mary’s Church on Grant Street.
Father Andrew founded Goods of Conscience, a nonprofit that makes high-fashion handwoven clothing out of wild cotton from Guatemala. He gives the locally harvested cotton to Guatemalan weavers, offering them a way to generate income.
“To me, he was the first to find a cycle of breaking poverty,” Ms. Hard said. “Now, there’s so many other great brands that are doing this. It’s fun to research them. If it fits my aesthetic, it’s great to have them here and people can come look.”
Another brand in the store, Apolis, also aims to break the poverty cycle. The brand’s durable canvas bags sold in the store labeled “Greenport, NY”, were crafted by Pakistani women given fair trade wages, profit dividends and a retirement fund, Ms. Hard said.
“In supporting this, we’re helping them, but we get some benefit from it,” she said.
The back of the store is home to furniture and goods from touchGOODS and Nicolette’s for the Home, both in Southold. General Good benefits both Southold businesses, Ms. Hard said, because they don’t have a Greenport presence.
The store is just a test run, Ms. Hard said. She wants to see if it’s a sustainable position.
“My message for the store is: Come in here, help by buying, by giving good away, or just take part in the good,” she said. “By buying here, you’re helping in some way — whatever it is.”
General Good is located at at 110 South Street, Greenport.