Gay Community Center Refocuses
Read More: Gay Community Center of Richmond
The for-sale signs are up and there is an interested buyer according to Gay Community Center of Richmond interim CEO Bill Harrison.
“If we do get an offer, we’re going to look at renting out space for the bingo hall and the thrift store until we get another location,” Harrison said. ”[At our last board meeting] we were fine-tuning if we did get an offer, what would that look like until we get another space.”
The building is being sold by local real estate giant Thalhimer for $1.5 million. No worries about the iconic rainbow address at 1407 Sherwood Avenue being painted over for curb appeal – it will remain multi-colored while on the market. A large banner has been placed on the event-hall side and can be seen from I-95.
“The board voted in December to sell the building,” Harrison said.
With a move in location, the Center’s operations and community space may or may not be in a separate location from the Diversity Thrift. Accessibility and foot traffic are priorities for both.
A marketing committee has been put into place to look at the center’s thrift operations to put together a report of what Diversity Thrift should look like going forward – whether that’s changing merchandising strategy or being more selective about the types of donations accepted. Currently most anything and everything is accepted.
“The thrift store set another record month for February,” Harrison said. ”It’s doing well – it could do a lot better…With DT2 (the second location of Diversity Thrift on Main) we’re learning that we have a very similar customer base,” Harrison said.
If they continue to branch out thrift operations, they may look at places like Mechanicsville that are not currently served by Diversity.
Since stepping into his roll as interim CEO, Harrison said he’s received feedback that the GCCR has not been transparent enough as these changes have taken place.
Harrison said he’s noticed a problem with the GCCR and awareness. ”Very few people know about the Gay Community Center. Plenty know about Diversity Thrift.”
A current development position will remain open until the organization restrategizes. Harrison has started conversation with other LGBT organizations like Equality Virginia and ROSMY to gauge needs in the community before the GCCR starts a larger needs assessment in Richmond.
He says the purpose of the center should be two-fold — to offer useful programming for the community and offer support for other LGBT organizations serving the area.
“We need programs of substance. SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) is a good example,” he said. ”We have older generations meeting on a regular basis and drawing a fair number of people.”
As for bingo operations, the board is looking into bingo as a continued source of revenue for the future. ”It’s tightly regulated by the gaming commission,” Harrison said. ”Only two paid people can work a game, so you have to bring in a lot of volunteers – it’s a lot to manage.”
Since smoking is allowed at the center’s bingo games, it’s impacted their ability to rent out the event hall space because the odor lingers according to Harrison. He said if they move locations, they are looking into non-smoking games and how successful they’ve been for other organizations.
What are your thoughts? Where would you like to see the Gay Community Center and Diversity Thrift?
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want people to leave with knowledge of what their community center does,”March 31, 2015
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