DeWitt Referral Center Retail Management Recommendations

Through a graduate assistantship from the Tippie College of Business, an MBA student worked alongside IISC staff to develop recommendations for retail inventory management policies and procedures for the DeWitt Referral Center, a non-profit organization that serves a resource for local families experiencing hardship or crisis. 


The DeWitt Referral Center provides for some of the neediest within the community.  Families that reside with the DeWitt Community School District can receive food items and emergency financial assistance for basic needs, such as paying a utility bill for heating. Resale of clothing and household goods is a significant component of how the DeWitt Referral Center serves the community and generates revenue for the food bank and other services.  The Center receives donated items, which are sorted, organized, and made available for resale to the public.  Limited space is a constant challenge for the volume of inventory they receive- employees and volunteers spend considerable time organizing the donated items and often end up with items they do not need but have to handle and dispose.  Although most donations are made well intended, they often get items that they cannot resale.


The City of DeWitt and DeWitt Referral Center staff sought assistance with managing inventory and resale of donated items, as well as marketing the retail aspect of the organization to the community.  The final report provided best practices based on research into similar non-profit organizations, and made recommendations for management of the thrift store, focusing particularly on inventory policies and procedures.   The final report provides recommendations for the following objectives:


  • Communicating approved items to donors in order to minimize amounts of undesired items
  • Managing and storing inventory
  • Displaying merchandise in a way that appeals to customers and turns inventory over more rapidly
  • Communicating the organization’s purpose and marketing the thrift store to the general public