Many residents look forward to vendors coming to their home. Some seniors are bound to the facility due to illnesses and other physical restrictions, so it is always nice to have a store come to them if they are unable to go on outings. As an activity professional, have you ever seen a vendor come in with up charged items? Or perhaps vendors who work for overpriced cosmetic and jewelry companies? I once had a handbag salesperson come to a previous home I had worked for that was selling bags for that cost $80.00 and over. It was absurd as many of the seniors living there would only have an allowance of $50 to $100 a month. Some residents only receiving Medicaid had a strict $50 a month budget. I tried putting myself into their positions and how discouraging it must feel to have all of these lovely items in front of you and not being able to buy them. One time I even had a vendor who had marketed themselves as a traveling dollar store but overheard them trying to sell items in a hair accessory ( hair clips) package for $2 each hair clip. Meanwhile they were all in the same dollar store package of hair clips. Luckily, I was there to confront them about taking advantage of my resident. Having dealt with so many overpriced vendors, I decided to take things in to my own hands and here are two great suggestions for you to do the same!
Start your own “in house” Dollar Store.
Try holding a conversation with your administrator and see if they would be willing to give the recreation department $200 a month to host a bi-monthly dollar store. This was a huge hit with my residents and what was great is whatever was bought the first week, we would use the cash from sales to buy items for the second week we had the store, so we were always able to replenish sales and pick up items our residents requested during Resident Council meetings. Tissues, toothpastes, socks, greeting cards, snacks, all necessities were a big help to residents who were unable to go to the store or have someone pick them up. The week the store was running we would even give out $3 certificates for residents to win for the dollar store. It was a big hit!
Costume Jewelry and Pocketbooks Don’t Have to be Marked Up
I found one fabulous online store, Aliexpress.com that sold many necklaces and bracelets in bulk and also had really fashionable pocket books that were only $15-20 as opposed to $80. This site was a God send when we had a holiday market. With affordable jewelry and accessories, it was attainable for our residents’ budgets. My only suggestion is to ensure you order items way in advance as some items take a while to ship, sometimes over a month. Luckily some items take only a week to two weeks, but just make sure when you check out that the items you need will be available to you when you need them. Some jewelry sells for $40 a lot, but you can receive over 60 bracelets.
Hosting your own store can be extremely beneficial to the needs of your residents. I hope these ideas helped!