New downtown Cape store offers shopping for a cause

Monday, June 18, 2012
Bridgett Kielhofner, left, store owner of Philanthropy, 407 Broadway in Cape Girardeau, poses with its founder, Christina Martin.
FRED LYNCH
flynch@semissourian.com

Last year, on a girls trip to Franklin, Tenn., Bridgette Kielhofner visited a store that was different from any other she'd seen before.

"It's unlike any retail store you've ever been in. When you walk in, the love that is there is so contagious," Kielhofner said of Philanthropy, which pledges 10 percent of its sales to charity.

She will open Philanthropy's first franchised store at 407 Broadway in downtown Cape Girardeau on Friday and hopes customers here feel the same way she did about shopping with a purpose.

Through the sale of apparel, jewelry, home décor and gift items, Philanthropy has donated more than $247,000 to charities since Christina Martin founded the company in 2007. Martin has made numerous trips to Cape Girardeau over the past year working with Kielhofner to launch the Cape Girardeau store.

"This is my fourth business that I've done, and I knew it was time to give back," Martin said about opening Philanthropy's flagship store in Franklin. "I wanted to open something that would be a catalyst for customers who had giving hearts that could come in and know that each dollar did make a difference. It wasn't just a marketing tool."

In addition to supporting 32 different charities, Philanthropy owns 160 acres in Biong, South Sudan, where proceeds from the store help with community development including constructing wells, schools and churches.

"With businesses today failing all around us, we've got to get back to understanding that you can't be in it to serve yourself. Take what you need and give the rest away. That's our philosophy here," Martin said.

Kielhofner says it was a journey of faith that lead her to where she is today with Philanthropy. Two years ago, the mother of two was diagnosed with skin cancer and began to re-evaluate how she was living and her job as chief financial officer for a multimillion dollar corporation.

"I was living my life for myself. I was living my life being greedy. Making money, spending money, and I measured success by how much money I could make," Kielhofner said.

She quit her job three weeks after returning from a mission trip to Swaziland with Heart for Africa last July.

"I knew it was time for me to start living my life focusing on helping others, inspiring others and giving back. At that time, I knew I wanted to do something very similar, but I had never even been to the store yet," she said. Two weeks after she'd quit her job, she walked into Philanthropy and felt the love.

When it came to selecting a location for the Cape Girardeau store after looking at several sites, downtown was the clear choice, Kielhofner said. The Franklin store is also located in a downtown area.

Martin carefully selects the items sold at Philanthropy working with the designers who in many cases are in the same countries as the charities the store supports. Some brands sold at the store give 100 percent of the sale price back to a specific charity. Philanthropy has its own line of T-shirts, called Wearable Compassion, designed and sold only in its stores. The T-shirts feature different charities and the full selling price is donated to the charity. The Cape Girardeau Philanthropy store will offer a Wearable Compassion T-shirt for Old Town Cape and Hope Children's Home in Jackson.

As Kielhofner and Martin have worked to renovate the inside of their store, they said they've felt the momentum building about the Broadway reconstruction has been going on outside the store. The intersection at Broadway and Fountain Street recently opened, providing customers with access to the 400 block of Broadway again.

"I'm just excited that we can be here from the ground phase of the improvements and we can honestly say we didn't come in after it was all done," Kielhofner said.

Grand opening events are planned for 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. At 5 p.m. Christian artist Ryan Corn will perform at the corner of Broadway and Fountian street. Regular business hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and First Fridays Philanthropy will stay open until 9 p.m.

A complete list of charities the store supports is available on its website, www.philanthropyfashion.com.

Southeast Missourian business editor Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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