Second chances

Green Bay shop's proceeds fund women's support nonprofit

Posted on Aug 31, 2020 :: For the love
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Downtown Green Bay’s Sunrise on Main Boutique is all about giving new life — to women, clothing and, most recently, a historic building.

The shop, which sells upscale resale apparel and accessories, is more than the typical consignment shop. Operating under a social enterprise model, the store’s proceeds go to supporting the work of its nonprofit partner Reset.Life.

Reset.Life is dedicated to helping women find success in their work and home lives through professional and personal growth, entrepreneurial development and interpersonal connection. Store owner Joan Johnson says Sunrise on Main offers something for all women, whether they want to support the work of Reset.Life or simply want to score some high-quality pre-owned clothing at an excellent price.

“When (people) come into this shop, they just feel like it’s a very welcoming space. I want it to be a boutique for everyone. They know that when they come here, we care about them,” Johnson says.

This past spring, Johnson was on the cusp of growing her business when the pandemic hit. She had recently decided to purchase the former site of Big Tomatoes restaurant, a historic building at 1244 Main St. in downtown Green Bay, with plans to increase her square footage and expand Reset.Life’s services.

The timing gave Johnson pause, and she says she spent many agonizing hours deliberating whether continuing with the plan was the right decision. “I felt just kind of sick to my stomach thinking this might not happen because I already pictured ourselves in there, and I imagined our nonprofit having more space and growing and serving more women,” she says.

Ultimately, Johnson decided to forge ahead with the move and says the Safer at Home closure offered a surprise benefit of giving her and her husband more time to remodel the space and fine-tune some programming updates. Reset.Life recently added services for women entrepreneurs looking to start or develop their businesses.

Sunrise on Main opened in its new location in June. Johnson says she was delighted to remain in the Olde Main District, and the historic building offers a charming and inviting environment featuring original hardwood floors and brick walls.

To operate safely during the pandemic, Johnson added several safety measures, including a process for letting clothing donations sit for several days before handling them and then steaming garments both before they make it out onto the floor and after people try them on. She’s also added a private shopping option in which people can book a time to browse solo or in a small group every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

During the shutdown, Johnson says she most missed providing programming to the women Reset.Life serves. She’s working on debuting an expanded line of programming and a new website.

Johnson says Reset.Life is aimed at helping “women in the middle” — those who make too much to qualify for government assistance but not enough to afford professional services on their own. A typical client could be someone going through a life change or professional transition. 

Mary Webb, who volunteers for Sunrise on Main and Reset.Life and serves on its board of directors, says the organization recently worked with a young woman who had two young children and was going through a divorce. She was transitioning back to the workplace after being a stay-at-home mom. Reset.Life provided her with support and resources as well as outfits to wear to interviews and work.

Webb says Johnson’s passion for helping other women guides the organization. “She’s a visionary. She is an extremely smart businesswoman, probably one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met, and just does so much to make people feel that they are important,” she says.

Reset.Life services include workshops, small group work facilitated by a certified life coach and personalized one-on-one coaching from a certified health and wellness coach. The organization offers full and partial scholarships.

Johnson says Reset.Life is not trying to compete with other nonprofits but rather carve its own niche. In addition, she says
it can serve as a personal connection to other programs.

Whether someone comes in to find a new top or new life plan, Johnson says Sunrise on Main will resonate with them. “They like the idea that this is not just another resale shop. This is a resale shop with a big heart that exists not to make money but to support a nonprofit.”