From the funds given to community programs to the time offered by volunteers and even down to the donated items on the shelf — Kiwanis Marketplace has created a unique circle of giving back to the community and doing good.
The Kiwanis Marketplace is a foundation of the Kiwanis Club of Carefree, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the well-being of the community, primarily through helping children. According to Kiwanis Marketplace general manager Alex Perez, the store made $2.35 million in 2022, and 70% of that went directly back to the community through the organization’s various programs. The remaining funds were used to pay bills and keep the lights on.
“We try to budget and save everything that we can so after the bills are paid, all the rest goes back into these programs that the club gives to, and it goes anywhere from schools to private organizations like Foothills Caring Corps,” Perez said. “We’ve helped build parks with the money. The biggest thing is last year we gave about $350,000 in scholarships to students in the area.”
Helping make those donations happen, the vast majority of people that keep the marketplace going are volunteers. The marketplace currently has over 150 volunteers, and Perez said there are about 75 volunteers involved each week.
“I just appreciate the time that they give. They don’t get paid, they don’t have to be here — they’re doing it out of the kindness of their hearts,” Perez said.
“I believe that they see what we do for the community and they want to be a part of that. They get to see the change that we do in the community firsthand, as opposed to not knowing where the money goes. We take pride in where our money goes and always show the programs we give to and how much we give to them. We’re very transparent in that way and I think that really helps volunteers take pride in what they do.”
He added that there are still around 10 volunteers who have been with the marketplace since the very beginning, which was nine years ago.
“That’s just a testament to the loyalty that they have,” he said.
In a special show of that appreciation, Kiwanis Marketplace will have thank-you gift bags, barbeque and pizza lunches and a 50% off sale for volunteer appreciation week April 18-22. In addition, Perez said a booth will be set up outside for shoppers who are interested in becoming a volunteer and will offer a special coupon that day as an added incentive.
Some shoppers may come to the Kiwanis Marketplace just looking for a new side table or kitchenware, but many come specifically to support the organization’s mission of giving back to the community.
“You feel the outreach at the store because our shoppers are people who have benefited from these programs,” Perez said. “I’ve had parents come in and say, ‘I shop here because my kid got a scholarship,’ or even a bus driver say, ‘You do so much for the schools, that’s why we shop here.’”
For those who may not have time to volunteer, shopping at the Kiwanis Marketplace is a great way to contribute while also getting something for yourself. On April 30, the marketplace will host a “Lots in our Lot” sale, where the storefront and part of the parking lot will be filled with items ranging from clothing to house decor — all for $2.
“You’re going to see a lot of brand name clothing, purses and shoes. You wouldn’t find name brands that go for $2 anywhere else but you can find that here. We also put out lamps, furniture, a lot of nice household decor, China – it’s not just going to be the cheap stuff.”
Perez said at a previous Lots in Our Lot sale, the Marketplace sold 1,800 items and made $8,000 in four hours – so it’s definitely a popular event and an effective way to raise funds to help those in need.
The Marketplace will also be open for shoppers, but is not part of the $2 sale.
Kiwanis Marketplace is located at 6535 E. Cave Creek Rd. and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit kiwanismarketplace.org or call 480-488-8400.