The Victory Garden
● By Claudia Mosby
American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop in Redding
If April showers bring May flowers, then gardeners ready to get their green on will delight in “Thyme in the Garden,” the spring shopping theme that begins May 9 at the Discovery Shop in Redding.
Live plants, pots and tools, gloves and hats, furniture and a variety of knick-knacks for nature are designed to inspire those with a love of roots and shoots. “Since it is Mother’s Day weekend, we wanted to do something special,” says manager Colleen Giampaolo.
The Redding store is one of 39 throughout California operated under the auspices of the California Division of the American Cancer Society. “We look at the shops as a window into the American Cancer Society,” says Giampaolo. “Customers come into discover a treasure, while on a larger scale we’re trying to discover a cure.”
In a retail environment that offers “a unique quality resale experience,” Giampaolo and her volunteers put love and care into preparing each donated item for display. “We wash and present it in the best way possible in order to return dollars to the cause and mission our donors support—cancer research,” she says.
In addition to women and men’s clothing, the shop carries shoes, jewelry, accessories, antique collectibles, fabric, bedding, art, kitchenware, small electronics, furniture and household items for the entire family. There is a separate children’s section.
When Redding American Cancer Society administrative services were relocated to Chico several years ago, Giampaolo says American Cancer Society volunteers were unwilling to sacrifice the local support services that Shasta County patients had grown accustomed to receiving.
Although retail on its face, the heart and soul of the Discovery Shop is education, much of which is carried out in the Cancer Resource Center, a separate space within store walls that includes a wig-fitting room. “We provide health education several times a year,” says Giampaolo, “and recently coordinated the cancer society’s Cancer Action Network, a legislative movement to ensure tax dollars and donations earmarked for cancer research are used as specified.”
Volunteers who staff the Cancer Resource Center have been trained to give empathetic support; many are cancer survivors themselves or family members of someone with cancer. “Patients can come and talk with someone who understands, receive literature on the different types of cancer, and use the phone to call the 800 number,” Giampaolo says.
Resource center services include the Look Good, Feel Better program, which teaches women undergoing chemotherapy how to use makeup to add color back into their skin, how to tie headscarves and choose a wig (all fee-free services). “We have a couple of hairstylists in Redding who work with patients that need a wig cut or shaped to suit them,” adds Giampaolo.
Monthly store themes, 50-percent-off semi-annual sales and tie-ins with the Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraising events keep staff and volunteers busy.
On May 23, following the garden-themed event, the store will move into its next campaign: “It’s Only Black and White: Cancer Affects One out of Three,” a prelude to this year’s Relay for Life in June. “We have saved the best of our black and white items for this event,” Giampaolo says. “Customers can receive information on how to participate in Relay and can also purchase ‘In Memory of/In Honor of’ luminaria to be displayed along the track during the event.”
In October, the shop goes pink in honor of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk (in its sixth year in Redding) and sells coupons for $10 and $25, entitling the holder to a month-long discount of 10% and 25%, respectively, on all merchandise.
Discovery Shop volunteers sort donations, operate the cash register, help in the resource center, arrange displays and write thank-you notes.
“Giving of one’s time or making a donation to the store are other ways people who care about the cause, but who cannot be on a team, can make a difference,” says Giampaolo.