Story and photos by Ammie Bryant
This spring Karman Korner celebrated its 25th year in business. The popular downtown resale shop opened ten years after Judith Karman Hospice opened with the purpose of supporting hospice services and raising funds towards eventually building a Hospice House in Stillwater. Karman Korner was located in several different places downtown before moving to its current location on the northeast corner of 9th and Main at 819 S. Main.
Karman Korner relies heavily on volunteers to fulfill its mission to support Karman Hospice patients. Forty volunteers currently work at Karman Korner, but they can always use more. Volunteers do a wide variety of tasks but they do not have to commit to too much if they do not want to; they can choose to do as much or as little as they like. According to Karman Korner Manager Whitney Johnson, some of the volunteers have been with the shop for twenty years.
Besides a change of location, Karman Korner and the Hospice it was founded to support has gone through additional changes in recent years. In 2014, Judith Karman Hospice approached Stillwater Medical Center during a challenging financial period looking for a solution. Previously, the Hospice had been funded by sales from Karman Korner but the organization had reached a point where it needed additional help to keep functioning and serving those who need end-of-life care.
Stillwater Medical Center was initially cautious of running this type of venture so SMC chose to enter a 50-50 partnership with Bristol Hospice to take over running the Hospice. Two years later Bristol Hospice decided to sell their interest in the partnership. SMC had first right of refusal. After the initial two years of operations and good leadership, SMC decided to take on full ownership and management and the Hospice became Karman Legacy Hospice.
Meanwhile, as a non-profit, Karman Korner came under the umbrella of the Stillwater Medical Center Foundation. Today, an advisory board meets regularly to consider how funds raised by Karman Korner sales will be granted to those in need. Karman Korner still operates separately and is entirely self-supporting with all of its sales going to pay for its operations. The remainder of the funds go to help Hospice, Cancer Center, and Home Health patients and their families with expenses that are not covered by insurance. Requests for assistance are vetted by social workers and nurses who are close to the patients and their families and understand what their needs are. Some of the types of expenses include burial expenses, electric bills, lawn care, medical supplies, wigs for cancer patients, and gas cards to help pay for patients to get to their treatments. Since May 2015, when the advisory board first began distributing funds through these grants, over $275,000 has been given to patients in need.
There are several ways that people can support Karman Korner and its efforts to support local patients in need. An easy way to do so is to follow Karman Korner on Facebook and invite your friends to do so as well. The first of the week sales are posted on the facebook page as well as contests, and other promotions. Another great way is to donate your gently used items for resale. “Donations help people within a fifty-mile radius who come to Stillwater for treatment. It helps people that you may know,” explained Johnson.
Karman Korner accepts many kinds of donations including clothing, books, toys, housewares, and more. However, they are not able to accept TVs, mattresses, or other large objects. So if you are unsure if your donation is appropriate, please call ahead to see if it is something that they can use. You can reach the store at 405.377.6410. Bring donations to the back door Tuesday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Just knock on the roll-up garage door in the alley just off of 9th avenue. Please do not drop things in the alley where objects are exposed to the elements and there is no guarantee that it will actually make it into the store.
Community support has been integral to the longevity of Karman Korner. “We want to thank the community for their support over the last 25 years, and for helping make us such a great store,” said Johnson. “We have so many loyal customers and donors who come in once a week or more.” Local volunteers, donations, and shoppers are what make it possible for Karman Korner to remain open and generating enough revenue to help patients and their families.
So the next time you are looking for a good deal and feel like going thrift-shopping be sure to stop by Karman Korner and spend your hard-earned cash knowing that it’s going to a great cause.