On a beautiful blue-sky Saturday afternoon, Roundabout held its much-anticipated grand reopening celebration. And there was much to celebrate! A new and larger location, fabulous retail and donation space, numerous featured charities to partner with, and fun, fun, fun! The entire community was able to see first-hand what a gem we have in our neighborhood.
Founder Leslie Simpson was at the event, of course, greeting everyone who came and giving personal tours to those who wanted to know more about Roundabout. Founded in 2008, the charity distribution store has grown in size as well as in their enormous ability to contribute to those in need. Having moved locations several times over the past few years, the previous building landlord saw the good that Simpson and her crew were doing – he decided to build the current facility specifically for them so their charity work could continue.
Two large front rooms in the building serve as the main retail area. Just as when browsing a regular store, items are displayed attractively in sections, and all items have been tested or checked to make sure they are complete and ready to sell. Expats will discover great finds here, from electronics with the proper currency to household goods they forgot to bring from back home. Local Chinese residents also frequent the Roundabout retail area.
A third room will be special “community room,” open to expats and groups only. Many charities that Simpson has worked with in the past will be invited to showcase their goods and sell them here (100% goes back to charity), providing them extra exposure amongst the community. This same room will be open for groups – scouts, school organizations, church groups, etc. – anyone who wants to get together for project help. Training and events will be held here and groups are able to collectively provide a service by helping Roundabout help others.
Back rooms are for maintenance – everything from a book overflow room (keeps books sorted and stored for monthly book fairs at local schools), an “electronics to be checked” room (where all electric goodies must be assured that they work before being put out for sale), to a clothes sorting area (clothing is separated by gender, age, and season before being sent out). A large white board posts messages daily to remind the volunteers what they are working for, and there is a kitchenette break room for those who have a hard time tearing themselves away from helping out.
Sad news for us is that Simpson and her family are leaving Beijing at the end of 2012 with a job relocation to Kuala Lumpur. While she will be sorely missed, she can take pride in the fact that she has successfully set up an operation able to move forward and serve those in need. Her band of volunteers will next be led by Becky Wang, who has been working with Roundabout during the past year and has enormous enthusiasm and passion for the role. Originally from China, Wang has spent many years of her life in the U.S. where her family still owns a home and where their older children live. The ultimate goal is that in the future Roundabout will be run by Chinese people for Chinese people, so it is fitting that Wang is taking over at this time.
In the meantime, Simpson will continue to work on the development side of Roundabout while in Malaysia, and she has plans to open branches in Nanjing, Shanghai and downtown Beijing next year.