After seeing an economic downfall in their Portage Park, Chicago neighborhood in 2011, Joseph and Melissa Basilone opened Thrift & Thrive, a resale shop that provides the community with access to a curated selection of high quality goods at affordable prices. The couple feels that by reusing and recycling, people have an opportunity to decrease their spending, have a greater appreciation for their possessions, and in general have a tendency to thrive. The majority of the shop’s merchandise comes from the very neighborhood it goes back to, increasing prosperity while decreasing landfill waste.
“We are absolutely ‘all-in’ when it comes to
revitalizing our neighborhood.”
~ Joseph Basilone
Joseph and Melissa received a $10,000 loan from Accion in March 2015 to hire staff and finance the deposit needed to secure adjacent real estate, allowing them to expand their business. The loan was made possible with support from The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, which supports entrepreneurs such as the Basilones who are having a positive impact in their community.
Joseph and Melissa are deeply committed to their community. They are founding members of the Irving Austin Business District and worked with the Alderman’s office to secure a $500,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation to rehabilitate their neighborhood’s streets.
Along with Thrift and Thrive, the Basilones also opened a new venture, Sputnik Books and Records, featuring more than 4,000 records and 3,000 books, most of which they purchase used from the public. Unsold products eventually get transferred to Thrift and Thrive and offered at a discounted rate or donated to a charity partner in the community.
The couple proudly employs 11 employees, all of whom are residents of the neighborhood including two veterans. Providing employment opportunities to people living in their neighborhood remains paramount to both their business and personal success.
Joseph and Melissa’s plans include continuing to grow the offerings at both Thrift & Thrive and Sputnik. Their long term plan includes purchasing additional real estate as well as growing the square footage of Thrift and Thrive.