Sweet girls enjoy a summer treat from A Little Something.
It took them just two weeks to shut down and re-model their storefront, and the effects have been immediate.
A Little Something, the downtown Port Huron gift store that serves as the retail training center for non-profit organization Kim Johnson serves up ice cream with a smile at A Little Something.Touchstone Services, shut down for two weeks to renovate the store in order to add ice cream to its inventory. The results, says manager Lucie DeLine, is a marked increase in foot traffic and sales for the storefront.
Workers took some walls down, added some modern flourishes, installed new carpet, put up a fresh coat of paint, and installed the electricity and sinks necessary for a brand new 16 dip ice cream cabinet. Inside are 16 flavors of Michigan’s own Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream. The addition of which, DeLine says, has transformed the store.
"It feels like Mackinac Island or Frankenmuth here now," she says. "I’m very proud with what we’ve done."
Fourteen area high school students have been hired to work the ice cream portion of the store.
The ice cream is a nice addition to A Little Something, which carries mostly Michigan-made products and gifts. But A Little Something is actually a lot more than a retail store. The store serves as a training center for people with employment barriers. Returning citizens, people on the autism spectrum, those with mental illness or disabilities; all are considered for employment at the gift store.
An outdoor place to sit and play is perfect for those enjoying a cone from A Little Something.
"We want to think we don’t judge people, but we do," DeLine says. "We’re here to give those people a chance."
A Little Something is a division of Touchstone Services. Those with employment barriers are accepted into a program that provides them on-the-job training at the gift store.
In addition to the retail experience, Touchstone also provides its members employment coaches for one-on-one job coaching once the gift store job is over. The goal is to find people meaningful employment.
"We use retail as training centers for people," DeLine says.
"We try and get them back into the working world, one job at a time."
With the success of the newly added ice cream, it seems A Little Something will be even more prepared to successfully continue to do so.
A Little Something is located at 205 Huron Ave. in downtown Port Huron.
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