Furniture store helps veterans in local program

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Full Circle Furnishings, a retail store at 2526 Riverside Drive, Beloit, began with the mission to help provide jobs for homeless veterans and provide a furniture store for the public. The operation now offers new and used furniture and is providing jobs for four veterans. Pictured from left are veterans Charlie Erdman and George Kern looking over furniture catalogs with Kevin Eggers, facility director at Rock Valley Community Programs, Inc.

In November of 2011, Full Circle Furnishings, 2526 Riverside Drive, Beloit, opened its doors to the public.

The inventory of the retail operation was good, used furniture that came from hotels when the businesses periodically updated their furnishings.

The purpose was to help provide jobs for veterans enrolled in the Rock Valley Community Programs and offer a furniture store to the public. Full Circle is a division of Caravilla, Inc., a non-profit, 501C3 agency.

It has reached that goal and much more, says Kevin Eggers, facility director at RVCP and store general manager.

Since opening, the operation has expanded to not only offer used furnishings, but new household furniture as well, Eggers said.

And, four employees of the business are veterans employed through RVCP.

George Kern, a Vietnam veteran, and Charlie Erdman, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, previously were among the homeless veterans housed at RVCP.

They went through the program at RVCP and presently, they are living on their own and work at the store. Kern is the assistant store manager and Erdman handles the behind the counter sales.

On this afternoon, both were in the store doing their jobs.

Kern, who has previous retail experience, said he enjoys his job.

“We have good, marketable products,” he said. “I like to see the smile on people’s faces when they come in.”

Eggers said early on he realized there was a need for new as well as used furniture in the store, so he attended a Chicago furniture show and connected with some vendors. Two of those vendors now provide the new furniture found in the store. Used items are stored in a warehouse building behind the store.

The store provides a full complement of living room sets, end tables, dinette sets, ottomans, beds and mattresses and more. Customers also can order items from store catalogs.

Mark-up is as low as 30 percent, which makes the merchandise very marketable and affordable, Eggers said.

The store also provides delivery service on Mondays for a $30 fee. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Pleased with the progress that has been made, Eggers calls the operation “a win-win” situation.

RVCP can house up to 48 veterans in transitional apartments. Presently, there are 37 living at the site.

Funding for Caravilla Homeless Veterans Transitional Housing Program comes from the Veterans Administration, donations and fundraisers. For more information or to make a donation, visit the website at: housing4ourvets.org or call 608-741-4500.

Rock Valley Community Programs is located at 203 W. Sunny Lane Road, Janesville.

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