Most Viewed Stories
The Rusty Wagon is a success
The Rusty Wagon gift store is closing in the black for 2012, and is looking forward to continued success.
That is the assessment of Glenn County Office of Education administrators who organized the Orland shop to help people with developmental disabilities get a job.
It employs four associates and a manager, and plans call for additional staff in 2013 if it continues to grow, said Project Coordinator Candice Spielman.
Thanks to the generosity of customers the store has had a "decent first year," Spielman added. "People are supportive of the concept and the local inventory."
The Walker Street store carries a wide variety of locally produced products including cheeses, olive oils, English curd and gifts made by area crafts people.
"We broke even and are within $10,000 of our (targeted) budget," Adult Program Director Jess Modesto said last week. The store generated about $33,000 in income from its retail activities.
Grant funding also helped launch the store that provides workplace training to its associates who have learned about food preparation and services as well as interacting with the public, officials said.
"Nobody is getting rich," Modesto said, but the associates are having fun and word of the store is spreading far and wide to customers.
Spielman said the store has 98 suppliers from around the north state including some from Orland and Willows as well as Chico and Corning who receive consignment checks each month.
She also said the Orland Craft Fair in November provided an opportunity for her and the staff to meet with suppliers and communicate with them as several attended it.
The Christmas season has been going well, Spielman said, and she hopes to hire another supervisor to work with four additional associates next year.
GCOE uses a 1-4 ratio of a supervisor to every four associates, she said. A waiting list is in place of people with developmental disabilities wanting to join the staff.
Since the store opened in August 2011, it has put in a cold case to refrigerate Pedrozzo and Rumiano cheeses, salami and other products, Spielman said.
The Rusty Wagon now offers food tastings of the products it sells.
Plans also call for the suite next door to be used in its expansion in 2013, Modesto said.
Permits and doorway installation are in the process of being completed, he said, so eventually part of the new space can be used for classrooms and the front end for more store front.
"We are educators in a retail environment," Modesto said. "We are learning."
He thanked Orland city staff for their patience in this endeavor along with the Glenn County Environmental Heath Department and other agencies.
It has been a collaborative effort, he added.
Manager Christina Jasper said Thursday it had been a busy two weeks leading to Christmas. "It's been busy everyday."
Associate Jose Amezquita said he has been working at the store for more than a year and enjoys it.
"It is good," he said.
Martina Ramirez agreed since the pair shows customers where items are located and answer questions about products.
"I've learned a lot of things since I started," Associate Vanessa Carter said. "I do embroidery and arts and crafts."
The inventory also includes candy, bread, coffee, nuts, unique aprons, paintings, glassware and more.
Hours of operation are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday- 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Wednesday- 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The store is at 420 Walker St.