Bellevue LifeSpring announced Thursday an expansion and continuation of a 70-year legacy with Kemper Development Company (KDC) with the grand opening of its new flagship store concept on the third floor of Bellevue Square. The new space houses both its administrative offices and the newly designed and named shop, Thrift Culture (formerly the Bellevue LifeSpring Thrift Shop).
Bellevue LifeSpring’s thrift shop has been an institution at The Bellevue Collection since Kemper Freeman, Sr. became involved with the organization in 1947 and founded a legacy that would span more than 70 years and three generations. He guaranteed the shop rent on Kemper Development property for only $1 a year so that this critical Bellevue organization can raise funds by selling high-quality new and gently-used merchandise.
“Bellevue LifeSpring’s culture is one of giving,” says Executive Director Jennifer Fischer. “We chose Thrift Culture because the thrift shop is a big part of that culture, and has been for more than seven decades. It’s a culture of neighbors helping neighbors as it has been from the beginning.”
Bellevue LifeSpring’s thrift shop is the longest-standing merchant at Bellevue Square. Today, the shop provides families in need with vouchers to shop for school and work clothing. In addition, all thrift shop profits go directly to programs supporting the 3,700+ Bellevue children living in poverty.
The story began with a little shop where old things were mended, made new again and then sold to support the organization’s work helping their neighbors in need. The shop has been a hub of giving for community members for decades, where they can shop, donate and volunteer to make Bellevue a better place to live, work and learn, according to Fischer.
Not only is Bellevue LifeSpring’s flagship location larger, Kemper Development Company and the Kemper Freeman Family ensured it would be completed with all new tenant improvements. In addition, they will continue to rent the thrift shop space to Bellevue LifeSpring for the $1 a year established in 1947.
The new location brings Bellevue LifeSpring staff, clients and supporters closer together in one collective, collaborative space. With room to grow, Bellevue LifeSpring will be better able to address the needs of Bellevue students and their families living in poverty from the heart of our city. “There will be space to address families’ needs holistically with access to food, basic needs, clothing and guidance from staff in one central location,” says Fischer. “Bellevue LifeSpring is taking a vital step toward meeting the need in Bellevue, ensuring that we will be there to continue supporting Bellevue’s children and allow them to achieve their potential.”
“We are honored to continue our commitment and contribution to this vital organization that has served the needs of the Eastside communities for so many decades,” says Jennifer Leavitt, vice president of marketing for The Bellevue Collection/Kemper Development Company. Leavitt was in 1981 a recipient of a scholarship from Bellevue LifeSpring that allowed her to attend college. “This continued support by the Kemper Freeman Family allows a unique opportunity for me to work with such a worthy organization, bringing awareness to their important impact in our community after they made a difference in my life.”
“Bellevue LifeSpring’s longtime dream is becoming a reality this summer,” says Joseph Brazen, Bellevue LifeSpring’s president and chair of the board. “We are honored to be a part of the Kemper Freeman family legacy and their commitment to Bellevue and Bellevue LifeSpring. We extend our warmest thanks to The Bellevue Collection, Kemper Development Company and the Kemper Freeman Family for the incredible foundation they have provided for Bellevue LifeSpring over the last century that will continue to benefit Bellevue’s families for the next 100 years.”
Bellevue LifeSpring’s new space was also supported by generous in kind services and donations from AAA Washington, Apex Moving and Storage, Boston Barricade, Emerald City Moving, Gravity Creative, JMS Construction, JPC Architects, Securitas and TubeArt.