November 25, 2010

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Just Naturals expands
After three years in Amherst, it was time for Karen Girardo to expand her business.

Girardo ran Just Naturals and Company out of her Bedford home for two and a half years before moving to Salzburg Square in Amherst.

“The demand for the products has grown exponentially,” Girardo said. “We have a lot of affiliates that we work with, alternative health care professionals ... people looking for healthier lifestyles — that’s really driven our business.”

Girardo relocated her main store to a 3,000-square-foot space in Bedford but she’ll maintain a “mini-boutique” in her Amherst location at 292 Route 101A. Just Naturals

(www.justnaturalproducts.com), now located at 176 South River Road, carries products for cleaning, laundry, bath and body, and pet care. The shop also carries work by local artisans and organic wines.

“There’s really no one else out there like us providing a shop like this with so many unique services under one roof,” Girardo said, adding her store provides one-on-one customer service.

Girardo said her products are a non-toxic, chemical-free alternative. Girardo’s customers tell her her products out-perform other natural products on the market, she said.

“We really improve the quality of life of each and every individual we touch,” Girardo said.

With the growth, Girardo needed to find a new location where she could centralize her processes, including product packaging and development. Just Naturals is also producing a wholesale component. With customers from all over New England, Girardo wanted to remain centrally located and close to a highway, she said. —Jeff Mucciarone

Consign and donate
For the past year, Consigning for Good in Milford has given shoppers and charitable thinkers a new twist on consigning.

The shop, which opened about a year ago at 172 South St., sells items on consignment but it also offers a donation program to benefit charities. People can donate proceeds from the sale of the items to the charity of their choice, said Joan Dargie, who opened the shop with Linda Cataldo and a third silent partner. The individual gets a full tax write-off for their donation.

With the economy as it is, many people can’t give money as they might like to, but Dargie said everybody has some item they don’t need that they’d probably be willing to donate. Nearly half the items brought in are donations, rather than straight consignment. The shop looks to help charities while also helping people de-clutter their homes, Cataldo said.

“A lot of people are downsizing, kids living far away and their parents are moving,” Dargie said. “Nobody wants the stuff they have left over. So we’re getting a lot of donations like that.”

An estate sale got the ball moving for Consigning for Good (www.consigningforgood.com). With an Amherst father being moved to an assisted living home and all the children in Chicago, the family’s realtor connected with Dargie and moved the goods to the shop, where the proceeds from the sale of the items were donated to the Animal Rescue League in Bedford, Cataldo said.

People must have a signed contract with the charity beforehand, Dargie said.

The shop mostly works in household goods, mainly furniture. It does not take in mattresses or baby items. The shop will use different outlets, such as Craigslist or eBay, to try to maximize return.

Dargie said May and January have been the busiest times. Already, Dargie said, the shop could use four times the space it has.

“It’s going pretty good,” Dargie said. “We’re all volunteers at the moment but we’re getting there.”

The shop is hosting a cash-for-gold event on Sunday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the typical hostess’s proceeds going to charity.

The shop only picks items up in the case of a donation to a charity, and in that situation the shop will get the charity to pick them up. In that case, the proceeds will go to the charity that does the pickup.

Call 249-9481. —J.M.