Cascade Alliance

Cascade Alliance Blog

Technique Tuesday: Keys to a Successful Thrift Store (11/13/2018)

This week’s Technique Tuesday will focus on tips to run a successful thrift store.  Since Thanksgiving is coming up, we’re using that holiday as an analogy for these key tips to success.  Read on…

One Good Thing (11/9/2018)

Sometimes we see so much negativity in the news and on social media that we forget about all the positive things that happen – that’s why we started One Good Thing a few months ago to focus on successes of our members.  This week for One Good Thing, we will be focusing on some of the recent successes UTEC, in Lowell, MA, has experienced.  Read on…

Technique Tuesday: Creating Successful Store Displays (11/6/2018)

This week for Technique Tuesday, we will be focusing on the steps it takes to create a successful store display.  These tips are especially relatable with the holiday season starting.

One Good Thing (11/2/2018)

This week for One Good Thing, we are focusing on a recent visit from John, the online book program manager at TAP into Hope in Roanoke, VA.  Over the last few days this week, John has been shadowing some key staff to learn best practices running online books ahead of their program going live. Read on…

Technique Tuesday: Creative ways to display items (10/30/2018)

This week we’re focusing on ways to sell products in your stores if you happen to be lacking the usual equipment for hanging or displaying items.  Read on…

One Good Thing (10/26/2018) 

This week we are focusing on the past conferences our Economic Development Director, Susan Palmer, recently spoke at.  These conferences focused on reuse of materials that would otherwise be headed towards the landfill, and ways of recycling waste.  Read on…

Technique Tuesday: Selling Seasonal Items (10/23/2018)

With the changing season and holidays coming up, this week’s Technique Tuesday will focus on the best way to sell seasonal items in thrift stores.  To learn more about what seasonal items to hold on to for the next year and displaying holiday specific items, read on!

One Good Thing (10/19/2018)

This week for One Good Thing we will be focusing on two good things happening for two of our members…because the only thing better than one good thing is two!  Our members Big Reuse in Brooklyn, NY and Finger Lakes Reuse in Ithaca, NY, are both in the process of resetting and redesigning their spaces.  Read on to learn more…

Technique Tuesday: Tracking Data Using Excel: Part 3 (10/16/2018)

We are back with the final installment of Tracking Data Using Excel, from Rebecca Currie, Finance Director at The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC. Today we will be focusing on how to use different average functions.  Read on to learn more…

One Good Thing (10/12/2018)

Welcome back to the 4th installment of One Good Thing!  This week we will be highlighting some of the recent successes such as a renovated store front and a collaboration with a University in NYC at the Urban League of Essex County in Newark, NJ.  Read on to learn more…

Technique Tuesday: Tracking Data Using Excel: Part 2 (10/9/2018)

We are back with Part 2 of Tracking Data Using Excel, by guest writer Rebecca Currie, Finance Director at The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC.  Read on to learn more…

One Good Thing (10/5/2018)

This week for One Good Thing, we would like to take the opportunity to highlight our organization’s recent success in becoming semi-finalists in the Communities Thrive Challenge, a grant opportunity presented by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation.  To find out more, read on…

Technique Tuesday: Tracking Data Using Excel: Part 1 (10/2/2018)

For the next few weeks, Technique Tuesday will be written by a guest who is none other than Rebecca Currie, Finance Director at The Scrap Exchange in Durham, North Carolina. She has written a three part series on tracking data by using excel.  This informational/tutorial will be useful for those who don’t use a point of sale system but would like some sort of way to track their businesses data.  Check out part 1 of the series…

One Good Thing (9/28/2018)

Welcome to the second installment in our One Good Thing series!  In a week of stressful news, we are excited to share some more successes from our members.  This week we are featuring the success of increased revenue, donations and and expanded clothing area happening at Finger Lakes ReUse in Ithaca, NY.  Read on..

One Good Thing (9/21/2018)

Sometimes we get so focused on challenges in our work that we don’t notice positive progress. Over the next year we will have a series of blog posts called One Good Thing for highlighting our member’s successes on a regular basis!  This Week’s One Good Thing comes from Denny Bender from Union Rescue Mission: Wichita.  Read on…

Technique Tuesday: Annual Stores Goal (9/18/2018)

Goal planning for a business can become complex pretty quickly, however, we’ve identified four basic principles that can help you and your business stay on track and successful during the planning stages of goal execution!  Read on…

Five Headline Friday (8/31/2018)

This week we bring you stories about prisoners re-entry into community, new recycling equipment, ThredUp’s response to Burberry’s burning, a book heist and more!

Technique Tuesday: Read this article by The Balance for tips selling used books on eBay (8/28/2018)

Friday Five (8/24/2018)

This week we talk collaboration, independent bookstores, plastics, and social enterprise! Read on…

Five Headline Friday! (8/17/2018)

Happy National Thrift Shop Day! Our first story kicks off with some thrift, followed by the impact Dollar General, Mattress Recycling and Amazon are having nationwide. Read on…

Technique Tuesday: How to Distinguish Counterfeit Money (8/14/2018)

Though the presence of counterfeit money is relatively rare, it is an important issue to be aware of when running any business where money changes hands. According to a recent study conducted by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, counterfeit bills make up .01% of the bills in circulation in the United States. This number is small, but its important to remember there is always a chance that counterfeit money may pass through your store. Do you know how to distinguish counterfeit bills? What should you do if you suspect someone is trying to pay with one? How would you respond if you realize you have ended up with a counterfeit bill?

This document is intended to answer these questions.

This week’s Friday Five touches on the new internet sales tax, e-bikes, and culture suck! Read on…  (8/10/2018)

Another round of the Friday Five! (7/20/2018)

Read on to learn about the upcoming conference we’ll be presenting at, an ambitious 45 mile fiber optic building, and more!

Five Headline Friday (7/6/2018)

This week we cover:

Technique Tuesday: Bumping Summer Retail Sales (7/3/2018)

When the dog days of summer hit, it can drive retail revenue down. We responded with a four-day tent sale in the store parking lot that was stocked with some of our best furniture and housewares. There are multiple benefits, read on….

Five Headline Friday (6/29/2018)

We are back with some fresh headlines for you on this Five Headline Friday.

Five Headline Friday (6/21/2018)

Summer is here, and so is Five Headline Friday!  Some of what’s happened this week that we hope will be informative and useful to our partners:

Read on…

Five Headline Friday (6/15/2018)

Five Headline Friday is back, after a brief technology-induced hiatus.  This week we’re looking at:

Read on…

Five Headline Friday (6/1/2018)

Welcome to this week’s Five Headline Friday, and Happy June!  Some stories that got our attention this week:  Zero Waste Scotland is working to help the city of Edinburgh to become more circular, the recycling crisis – the struggle really is real as we dump recyclables into landfills, a how-to framework from the Harvard Business Review for cross-sector collaboration for social good,  textile waste and what to do about it, and the trend toward regional philanthropy.  Read on…

Five Headline Friday (5/25/18)

Happy Friday and Memorial Day Weekend.  Here are your Five Headlines for the week, we hope you find them informative, inspiring and useful.

This week we’ve come across: a new Social Enterprise directory, designed to raise awareness and connections between entities involved in social enterprise; hoteliers and mattress recycling; Ikea is going full circular (economy, that is); innovations in helping incarcerated people succeed, and more investing in affordable housing by health-focused entities such as Kaiser Permanente.  Read on…

Technique Tuesday:  Motivating Staff Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of our Technique Tuesdays blog on motivating employees. We’ll share what we’ve learned about using compensation and other monetary incentives to encourage high performance….

Five Headline Friday (5/18/18)

Happy Friday!  We’re back to share some headline news with you.  This week we’re looking at…questioning of fashion resale’s actual connection to sustainability,  systemic problems with recycling and what to do about it, a new tool to help health and human service organizations identify heath and well-being issues in their cities, and advice for non-profits as they approach the summer season.  Read on…

Technique Tuesday

Every so often (Tuesdays, let’s say) we offer some tools and techniques we’ve found  helpful for organizations to advance their missions more efficiently and effectively.  This week we turn our attention to motivating employees.  Read on..

Five Headline Friday (May 11, 2018)

It’s Friday, and we have our weekly round-up of news and views.  We are looking at nonprofits’ using Amazon wish lists to fund specific needs, the role of design in affordable housing, a look at the sharing economy, and manufacturers turning toward a circular economy model.  Read on…

Work the Problem:  Strategies to Combat Shoplifting

Theft is an ongoing problem in retail stores.  This article offers some strategies we have found effective to reduce losses.  The best deterrent to shoplifting is giving the best customer service possible.  We talk about prevention, and how to respond when shoplifting is suspected.  The focus is on how to relate to customers in a way that lets them know your store pays attention and keeps everyone safe in the event shoplifting is discovered.  Read on…

Five Headline Friday (May 4, 2018)

With you May the Fourth and the Five Headlines (plus one) be!

Read on…

Five Headline Friday (April 27, 2018)

It’s Friday and we are here once again and to serve up some of the news of note from this week:

Read on…

Five Headline Friday (April 20. 2018)

Come and get your Five Headline Friday to see what’s been going on this Earth Week!

Read on…

Five Headline Friday (April 13, 2018)

It’s Friday and time for some headlines we hope you’ll find useful and inspiring.  This week we’re featuring articles on:

Read on…

Five Headline Friday (April 6, 2018)

Welcome to our weekly offering of headlines we hope you’ll find useful and inspiring.  This week we’re featuring articles on:

Read on…

Five Headline Friday (March 30, 2018)

We’re back to Friday with some news and views on…

Five Headline Friday (March 23, 2018)

It’s Friday and time for some headlines!  This week we’re featuring two stories about response to the China plastic recyclable ban, an ICYMI- Starbucks is responding to pressure and spending big to make greener coffee cups (but why not just bring your own re-useable one, we say!), a story of online resale going to bricks and mortar, and a program linking business students with non-profits to mutual benefit.  So here they are…

Global Recycling Day is March 18

Ever heard of the seventh resource?  We hadn’t either until we stumbled on Global Recycling Day, March 18, 2018, being launched by the International Bureau of Recycling.  Read on…

Five Headline Friday (March 16, 2018)

Welcome to Friday!  Have you recovered from the transition to Daylight Saving Time?  This week’s headlines feature two stories about certain caffeinated beverages, coincidentally.  We also have stories about a real mischief-maker in waste diversion:  child car seats, the value to rural women entrepreneurs of market-based social enterprise, and online thrift is gaining momentum with the help of technology to increase profit margins. Read on…

Five Headline Friday (March 9, 2018)

Welcome to Friday!  Here’s our weekly offering of five of the latest topical articles, news stories, and reports. This week’s top stories include:  Ebay’s role in the circular economy and ways they are innovating to enhance user engagement, the Association of Fundraising Professionals is observing Women’s History Month with its Women’s Impact Initiative, and an article highlighting the successes of mattress recycling in California.  Is there a place for retail thrift in the “pop-up” economy? The Roanoke Times explores this emerging business model.  Finally, Resource Recycling describes the value of measurement and analytic software tools being used  to measure impacts in recycling programs in state, local, and industry sectors. Read on…

Potential Impacts of Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on Waste and Recycling

Waste Dive took a look last week at how a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum might impact the waste and recycling industries. Authors Kim Slowey and Code Boteler write that prices for domestic steel and aluminum are likely to increase, so domestic recyclers could get higher prices for their products.

That’s a short-term potential impact, says Terry McDonald, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, which sells about 5,000 tons of various kinds of scrap metal into secondary markets each year.  Read on for more about predicted effects on waste and recycling…

Five Headline Friday (March 2, 2018)

Here’s our latest “Five Headline Friday.”  This week we are reading about the Super Bowl doing super waste diversion, Millennials donating their parents’ stuff to thrift stores, networking to advance local social enterprise, a check-in with how the EPA is approaching sustainable materials management in the Trump era, and a presentation by Greg Vestri, a profit-non-profit “bridger”, on how non-profits can use a profit-oriented framework to reduce dependence on donations to fund growth.  Read on…

Changing Workplace Culture Not Easy But Doable

“In the past year, the “Me Too” discussion has made all of us aware of the importance of creating a workplace culture where people feel valued and safe, but there are many other ways that workplace culture can go sideways – gossiping among staff, kidding around that can lead to workplace injuries, failure to reinforce best practices – and it takes sensitive leadership to change the culture and improve working conditions.

Read on for how we describe a positive work-place culture, both for employees and for customers, and examples of the ways we work to make changes when we see that they are needed.”

Adaptive Reuse

At the Cascade Alliance we mostly focus on reuse at the level of individual items – whether it’s clothing or furniture or a salvaged mahogany fireplace. But we also excel at adaptive reuse, taking a building adapted for one purpose and giving it a new lease on life with a new purpose.

Cascade Alliance featured in Next Cities report on Recycling Programs Potential to Grow Human Services Nonprofits

Next Cities reports on the successes and underlying philosophy and strategies of Saint Vincent de Paul of Lane County, and the Cascade Alliance in accomplishing our social venture mission.

Five Headline Friday (February 23rd, 2018)

It’s Friday again! Here’s our seventh installment of “Five Headline Friday.” Each week we pull together our top five articles, news stories, and reports and share them here. This week’s top stories include a thrift store piloting new strategies, a sustainable publisher calling for reduction in book waste, and some apps that make charitable giving easy and fun.  Read on…

Five Headline Friday (February 16th, 2018)

Happy Friday! Here’s our sixth installment of “Five Headline Friday.” Each week we pull together our top five articles, news stories, and reports and share them here. This week we touch on two efforts to improve measurement of outcomes in social impact programs, Uber-like technology for on-demand recycling pickups, rewards for innovation in plastic pollution solutions, and a mattress recycling program with a social and environmental mission.  Read on…

Five Headline Friday (February 9th, 2018)

Happy Friday! Here’s our fifth installment of “Five Headline Friday.” Each week we pull together our top five articles, news stories, and reports and share them here. This week we touch on the impact an Amazon warehouse has on a host city. Waste360 highlights the importance of collaboration and partnerships to do end-of-life management of consumer products.  RecycleForce is helping reduce criminal recidivism with employment in recycling, we get a look at a venture to improve retention and diversity in non-profit management, and a study of how new philanthropists can learn to best donate for impact.  Read on…

Embracing Working Goals in California (February 5th, 2018)

“We were pleased to see the James Irvine Foundation’s recent announcement of a new funding focus in California. Announced in December, it recognizes the distance between quality family wage jobs and low-income workers. The foundation announced two initiatives designed to reduce the barriers for those who want to work and are working, but lack the opportunity to move up to jobs with better wages, while also recognizing the need to support workers in low-wage jobs, who often have no voice at the policy table. We have four strategies for bringing along entry level workers so that we can promote them…..”

Five Headline Friday (February 2, 2018)

Happy Friday! Here’s our fourth installment of “Five Headline Friday.” Each week we pull together our top five articles, news stories, and reports and share them here. This week we touch on the cost of housing for homeless patients, the world’s first intelligent waste bin, Austin’s reuse challenge and more. Read on…

Collaboration Benefits: Learning from Each Other, Building Relationships

“Collaboration has the potential to make us all stronger, but it can be difficult to employ across a national network. Why bother? A thoughtful piece about collaboration came out last year in the Harvard Business Review, noting both what collaboration is and what it isn’t. Read on…”

Five Headline Friday (January 19th, 2018)

“Each week we gather the five articles we found most interesting that week, and share them with you here. This week we follow the ongoing global conversation around China’s plastic ban, touch on redesigning fashion’s future and more. Read on…

Quality Jobs Survey (January 15th, 2018)

“At the Cascade Alliance we’re all about creating sustainable jobs.  Thanks to a report by Insight at Pacific Community Ventures, titled Moving Beyond Job Creation: Defining and Measuring the Creation of Quality Jobs, we have the tools to analyze our efforts more deeply. The report, funded by the Surdna Foundation, offers a lens we found fascinating and helpful. It identifies five core components of a quality job …” Read More


Five Headline Friday (January 12th, 2018)

“Each week we gather the five articles we found most interesting that week, and share them with you here. This week, our focus was on the power of policy in boosting recycling rates, the struggle in philanthropy to address inequality, and reusing precious metals in electronics manufacturing. Enjoy! …” Read More

Leading from the Ground: Three Tips on Leadership During Company Growth (January 8th, 2018)
“Growth can be difficult. It involves walking into territory that is not always clearly charted, meeting challenges as they come, and letting go of old ideas. One danger, Jason said, is thinking you have it all figured out…” Read More






Five Headline Friday (January 5th, 2018)
“Each week we gather the five articles we found most interesting that week, and share them with you here. This week, our focus was on recycling trends, the circular economy, and the recently passed tax bill. We hope you enjoy this curated list. …” Read More


Bomb Cyclone Coming? Get Your Thrift Store Ready! (1.3.18)
“Our numbers took a huge hit for a few days, but we were able to spike them up right after. This was an unavoidable event, and things like this will inevitably come up. The point is to be aware and adaptable so that you can best prepare your site and staff…” Read More







Work the Problem: Welcome to the Cascade Alliance Blog! (1.2.18)

“We continue to thrive and grow because we’ve learned to keep our eye on problems as they come up, to observe and question and work on solutions…” Read More