Chamber grant helps Flint consignment shop manage during the COVID-19 pandemic

FLINT, Michigan -- On Flint’s westside lies N’Dapanda (5008 Flushing Road), a secondhand store owned by longtime Flint resident Barbara Culp, who is trying her hardest to continue her history of serving the community.

 

Culp moved from Dyersburg, Tennessee, to Flint in 1968 with her then-husband, but it is Flint that she calls home. “I was born and raised in Tennessee, but Flint is my home, I’ve made my life here,” she said.

 

Barbara CulpFor more than 30 years, Culp served as Michigan Sergeant at Arms at the House of Representatives. After retirement, she volunteered at Gracelawn Cemetery for six years before opening N’Dapanda in 2012.

 

“I needed some place to focus my energy and I had made so many meaningful connections in the community,” Culp said. “I thought the store was something I could do to help the community and keep myself busy all at once.”

 

N’Dapanda features unique secondhand clothing and accessories such as shoes, handbags, and jewelry. There’s also some artwork available for sale. Culp tries to go above and beyond to make shopping a much more personal experience than even more upscale name-brand stores.

 

“I have customers of all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life,” she said. “Several First Ladies of the local churches come here for designer fashions at a lesser cost, but I also help out a lot of young ladies just starting out and looking for affordable professional business attire.”

 

Like many businesses, things were steady and Culp had plans for a mini-expansion. But then the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed things. She’s been able to manage through the pandemic, in part, because of a Restart Flint grant from the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce. The program is aimed at assisting small businesses with necessary resources to safely reopen and operate during and through the pandemic.

 

“The store was closed in April after the shutdown order from the Governor and we haven’t fully reopened since,” Culp said. “The grant I received has really helped so much.”

 

Culp says with the help of the grant she’s been able to upgrade racks for easier maneuvering throughout the store to aid in social distancing as well as basics such as sanitizing stations and cleaning and disinfecting supplies. She also said she is working diligently on upgrading her online presence.

 

“I’m working on my website, trying to make the store navigational there and making it so we can offer online purchasing and pickup, but designing a website is all new to me, so it’s just one slow step at a time,” Culp said.

 

While N’Dapanda isn’t holding regular business hours, Culp is hoping to hold a pop up by December and is still open by appointment.

 

“All you have to do is give me a call and I can open up the store and we’ll find you that unique piece you can’t find anywhere else or help you get back in the game with a low-cost work wardrobe,” Culp said. “My happiness is helping people in the community that have always shown up for me and N’Dapanda.”

 

To schedule a time to visit N’Dapanda Consignments and Resale Shop, call (810) 820-6048.

Read more articles by Ashley Schafer.

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