As a business owner with a physical location, you have to deal with a few uncomfortable situations, and unfortunately, I had to deal with one of those a couple weeks ago.
It was two weeks ago on a Thursday, ten minutes until closing. A woman who appeared homeless walked into the store. She kept repeating "I need pants, I need pants." I went up to help her, and as I approached, she grabbed a pair of Sarah pants off the rack and bolted for the door. I managed to stop her before she could leave. She kept repeating the same sentence, "I need pants," but she sounded more distressed. I calmly acknowledged what she was saying, and replied, "I'm sorry, but these are mine, not yours, and you need to pay for them." She eventually let go of the pants, and left the store. My heart was racing as I walked back to the rack where they belonged, and I could hear her say, "I'm sorry" as she walked away.
This experience was incredibly unsettling, but above all else, it was heartbreaking. This woman wasn't stealing to make a profit or to cause chaos. She was stealing because she had a very basic human need - warmth.
I was raised with value of respecting all people. Regardless of who someone is, where they live, or how they behave, everyone deserves their presence to be acknowledged. If a homeless person asks for money, you respond, regardless of what that response is. We are all human, and deserve to be treated as such.
I was also raised with the value of caring for others, and I hold that responsibility close to my heart, sometimes too close. It pained me that I couldn't give this woman what she needed. But, as a small business owner, I can't afford to give anything away, especially right now. I need to protect it, nourish it, and let it grow to a point where perhaps one day, I can give back through my business.
I'm not sharing this story because I want sympathy, validation, or simply to add to everyone else's stories of crime in Oakland. That isn't productive. Rather, I'm sharing in an effort to make this very negative experience a catalyst for something positive.
So I am hosting a clothing drive in the store, focusing on warm clothes for men, women and children in need. I will be donating everything to City Team, an organization that will ensure that these pieces get into the hands of those who need them most in Oakland.
If you have any gently worn, clean clothes that you've been planning to donate to the Good Will, or if you need an excuse to go through your closet, please consider dropping off a donation at our store. We'll be accepting donations during all our open hours, now through December 31st. Feel free to share this with friends, family and loved ones!
Thank you for believing in this brand and making it a part of your cherished memories. Your support means the world to me, and I'm excited to bring you new pieces in the coming year!