Michael Brown, owner of Mike's Club provides information on the business working to help low-income families.
1. What is the mission for Mike’s Club?
Our mission is very simple: We offer benefits and services designed to help people reduce their cost of living. Our mission statement describes, in two simple sentences, what we do and why we do it: What if it were possible to build a business out of making people stronger? What if you could provide people with a package of goods and services designed to reduce their cost of living and, through that, raise them to a higher standard of living?
In essence, we are turning the traditional business model upside down. Instead of working to make shareholders richer, we are working to make our customer-members stronger. Rather than taking profit from our customers, we offer our services either for free or at-cost, and we generate profit through other revenue streams.
2. What is available at the club?
In terms of merchandise, we have a consignment store with clothing, furniture, household necessities, and decor; a small "Grocery Corner" with low-cost groceries; a media section with books, records, vhs and cd movies, cassette tapes, and even 8-track tapes. We also offer propane exchange like many other stores, but at the absolutely lowest price in town!
3. What services are available?
We have several services. Our Library of Things offers power tools, gardening and yard maintenance equipment, camping and recreational items, and more for our members to borrow — and it includes a free movie library! The Grocery Corner operates like a grocery store but we sell groceries to members at-cost with no markup for profit. Our consignment store offers used clothing and other items, with us keeping a smaller percentage of the commission so our members keep more of the proceeds. The Mike’s Club Cyber Lounge has computers, fast internet, printer, scanner, and copier, all available for members to use for free computers and fast internet, which members can use for free, and scanner, printer, and copier available at very low cost. Our Sewing Center is fully equipped and we offer sewing lessons. We also have a Prom Dress Lending Closet for members looking to give their child a happy prom memory. The Meeting Space offers a conference area for members to meet with counselors or lawyers in privacy, or to host use for personal or business meetings. Our Mobile Grocery is coming soon to offer affordable, healthy grocery services on the move and we have other services planned.
4. How does a membership work? (i.e. who’s eligible, how much does it cost, how to sign-up etc.)
Membership is quite simple. We charge $10 per month or $100 per year. One membership covers the entire household. There are no restrictions on who can join the club. Joining takes only a few minutes. Just come into the club, pay for either a monthly or an annual membership, and fill out a simple registration form, which includes the terms and conditions for borrowing tools and selling in our consignment store. Both monthly and annual members have access to all our basic services, although there are several benefits to opting for the annual membership.
5. How else does Mike’s Club help the community?
We try not to turn anyone away. If someone walks in and asks for a coat, we give one if we have one. If the local police (or any other agency) need help clothing women and children victims of domestic violence, we will open the store day or night to assist.
But by far our biggest community service program is our (new and very small) carpentry shop — where we provide the facilities, tools, and materials needed to make simple woodwork items, like picnic tables, benches, doghouses, etc. Our plan is to bring in men and women from local shelters, and those re-entering society from the justice system, give them resources and training, and allow them to build items for sale. Any income generated from the sales goes to the individual who made the item.
There is so much more to Mike’s Club than what I have described here. We are starting in McAlester, but we plan to expand across the country quickly. And, as we become stronger, we plan to make millions of people stronger along with us.