Photos by Gina Turner
Driving around the mostly empty parking lot of the Outlets at Conroe, it’s hard to see it as the home of a popular shopping destination. But that’s where you would be wrong. Tucked away in one corner of the shopping center is a unique store that attracts customers from100 miles away and is on its third expansion–Jazzy Junque & OtherGreat Stuff!
Don’t let the name fool you. The last thing you’ll find at Jazzy Junque is“junk.” A resale store that serves as a year-round fundraising mechanism for New Danville, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit that serves people with special needs, Jazzy Junque has high standards for the items it takes in. Just inside the door, there is a large dining room set worth over $9,000, which is for sale at a price of $2,200. Nearby, there is a beautiful, full-size grandfather clock priced at $225 and a set of crystal wine glasses that look like they belong in a china shop, rather than a thrift store.
“We consider ourselves an upscale home décor resale store,” said Odette D’Agostino, who is a New Danville advisory board member and serves as Jazzy Junque’s co-coordinator with Nanci Day.
Of course, there are less expensive items as well, but nothing that hasn’t passed the store’s quality check. The store does not take clothing, except for a select number of items for its boutique section, which is predominantly jewelry, but it does take books, art, children’s toys, and housewares as long as they are in good and working condition.
“I have to brag on our volunteers. They do an exceptional job. Everything that goes on the floor is clean and in fabulous condition,” D’Agostinosaid. “We don’t sell anything that is stained, torn or anything like that. Nanci is in charge of that. She is the Queen of Clean. Nothing gets by her with even a speck on it.”
Day laughed at the compliment and explained, “We try to sell only what we would buy.”
Day and D’Agostino stress that Jazzy Junque is not a consignment store, but rather a non-profit that takes donated items and sells them for the benefit of New Danville. With the exception of one paid staff person, store manager Linda De Loache, the entire operation is run by volunteers who have a heart for people with special needs.
The mission of the store is front and center with the staff. Some of the volunteer workers have family members with special needs, and there is a section of the store dedicated to New Danville, with a video about the non-profit and goods that have been made by NewDanville clients, who are called “Wranglers.”
Among the goodies are spa products, cake mixes and bread mixes that have been labeled by Wranglers. Greeting cards designed and made by the Wranglers are for sale, as are wooden church birdhouses, yard art, and wall plaques.
“The Texas trays are our biggest sellers,” said D’Agostino. “Everybody who makes a tray signs it on the back, and when the Wranglers find out their trays have sold, some of them get so excited.”
D’Agostino went on to explain that just 35 people live on the NewDanville property, but the non-profit serves many more adults with special needs from Montgomery, Walker, and Harris counties with its 22different day programs. While some of the adults are severely limited in their capabilities, many of them are higher functioning individuals who participate in social activities and classes such as woodworking, sign language, horse therapy, sewing, art, and cooking. There is even a six-month golf cart driving school program.
“They can do a lot more than people think they can,” D’Agostinoexplained. “New Danville really helps them live the best life possible.”
D’Agostino explained that Jazzy Junque has made a significant impact on New Danville and the people it serves.
“One of the reasons New Danville is so affordable for the families is that our funding makes up the difference between what we charge to come per day and what it costs us to provide the services. It costs the families about$30 per day to have their adult special needs child come to New Danville, but it costs New Danville about $108 a day. So we make up the difference with special events, including a huge annual spring fundraising event, and the proceeds from Jazzy Junque.”
When Jazzy Junque was originally opened full-time seven years ago, it was done so to be convenient to New Danville, which is located a few miles north off I-45 and Shepherd Hill Road. The population explosion in Montgomery County, however, has helped to increase the store’s business and the Outlets has ended up being a perfect location for the store.
“The outlet mall believes in our mission and supports us in a lot of ways. We are grateful,” D’Agnostino said. “And it’s very nice and clean, safe and convenient. We are thrilled with our location and don’t want to go anywhere else.”
The store, which began with a 3,000 square-foot space, has expanded twice over the years and now covers 9,000 square feet. Day explained that customers come from miles around and that the growth has been due to a combination of increased donations, population growth in the area, and long-time loyal customers.
“Our customers love us. We have regulars who comehere two to three times a week,” Day said. “Somepeople come because they tell us it is so relaxing.They say ‘it’s our happy place’ and that makesus feel good.”
D’Agostino agreed, sharing a story abouttwo couples – one from Huntsville andone from Houston – who meet at thestore about once a month to shop andshare a cup of coffee.
“We really care about our customers. We are on a first-name basis with a lot of them and some of them have poured their hearts out to us and have shared their personal stories with us.”
The growing popularity of “thrifting” hasn’t hurt jazz Junque’s growth, either.
“It’s amazing the mindset of people. They love to shop resale. They really do. You can have people who live in mansions in The Woodlands or Huntsville, but people love a bargain, so if they can find something that’s really quality and not pay full price, there’s some kind of mental challenge to that,” D’Agostino said.
One of the challenges with selling larger items, of course, is getting the furniture to and from Jazzy Junque. Customers buying furniture can be referred to movers who can deliver individual items. On the donation side, though, Jazzy Junque relies on the generosity of Two Men and a Truck in Spring.
“Two Men and a Truck in Spring, for many years, have been donating their time, trucks, materials and manpower to go pick up our large furniture donations once a month,” D’Angostinoexplained. “We could not survive without them. They have a very philanthropic spirit and are just an amazing group of people.”
D’Angostino said the moving company delivers at least one, but often multiple, truckloads of donated furnishings on the second Tuesday of each month. The volume has increased so much that the store, which is normally open Mondays through Saturdays, has begun closing once a month on delivery day.
“Our customers know that if they want the first look at new items, the best thing to do is to comeover the morning after delivery day, the second Wednesday of every month. We send out an email with pictures of our new items, and there will be people waiting on the doorstep when we open.” Day said.
Jazzy Junque (& Other Great Stuff) is located at 1111 LeagueLine Road, #172 in Conroe and is open 10-6 Mondays through Saturdays. It is closed on major holidays and on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for donation deliveries. More information on its mission, merchandise, and donation guidelines is available on its website at jazzyjunque.org.