What happens when an intensive care nurse decides to start a new chapter in her life? After serving patients for thirty years, Sue Hosier began serving her community through volunteer work and quickly realized she wanted to do more. That’s how she founded Angel Concept, a non-profit boutique in the heart of the action in downtown Littleton.
Angel Concept opened its doors ten years ago with a group of volunteers and is now a thriving small business that offers women in need of support a comfortable place to land, job training and a community to wrap them in hope. The non-profit organization will celebrate its tenth anniversary with in-store giveaways and offers through Saturday, October 15. We reached out to Hosier to find out more about this special place that does such stimulating work.
West Word: Could you please describe the company?
Sue Hosier: To the average shopper, Angel Concept looks like an ordinary charming boutique, but our real mission is to help women get back to work. Women are referred by other agencies and paid while they work for us, and they work with our volunteers for their training. We also donate 5% of a sale to charity, and the customer chooses which charity will receive the funds. All of the organizations help Denver-area women, and the council re-evaluates the list every year. Some of the current organizations include Women’s Bean Project, Safehouse, Florence Crittenton, The Delores Project – and customers can also choose [to have] the donation goes to the work of Angel Concept.
What types of products will people find in the store?
Hosier: We have gifts for everyone! The first floor has all brand new items, like women’s clothes, lots of socks, gifts for the house. We have a nice baby section, really wonderful children’s books, soft toys. And then on the lower level, everything is donated by our patrons, and it looks more like a thrift store.
When and how did you get started in this work?
Hosier: We moved here from Chicago after my kids grew up. I worked as a nurse for thirty years and my husband said to me, “You don’t have to work”, but I just hated not going to work. I started volunteering for things like the 9 Health Fair, and then I wanted more. Shopping is fun, and I thought we could donate money to charity, give them job training, and help other women get back to work. I live in Conifer and found a group of women to volunteer with me. None of us knew what we were doing, but we did it, thanks to a lot of determination. And we only got better. Unlike my old job, people who walk into the store don’t need IVs here, they just need to get groceries. We are not affiliated with politics or religion, and are just trying to do good things.
How long do the women placed there stay with you?
Hosier: Originally it was for three months, now usually around four. If they stay with us, they still find a job and they want to stay. We thought we were going to teach people how to work, but what happened is they’ve been through so much that they don’t have confidence in themselves anymore. We help restore that confidence to them, and if they think they can do it, they can. It’s amazing to watch a woman grow up and feel like she can do it. They are in the most favorable environment and they have to find a job. We help them with the resume process, and they know they can work again by the time they leave, and they usually have a job before they leave.
We have had people from 18 to 62 years old who have worked with us. People have driven all the way to Bailey to come and work here, and I’ve found that the further they have to go [and] the more challenges they face, the more determined they are to work. We work with three to four women per shift, and we put our hearts into the people here.
Can you describe the values of the company?
Hosier: We believe in helping every woman who wants another chance. We are kind, supportive and as fair as possible. I wanted somewhere easy for people to get to, and Littleton is on the train and bus route, and that’s safe. The entire staff is voluntary and the only people paid are the manager and the trainees. And just like a regular retail store, all new products are purchased.
Are you looking for volunteers?
Hosier: We have amazing volunteers and we can always use more! If anyone wants to volunteer to help with the inventory, especially at Christmas, we definitely need help.
Do you serve a particular group of people?
Hosier: Most women struggle with alcohol and drug problems; they may have been in rehab, in jail, homeless, but they’re trying really, really hard. They are referred by different programs, and we don’t have social workers, so we work in tandem with another agency to do our best.
What are some of the challenges of having a small business that most people don’t know about?
Hosier: I had never worked in retail before that. People don’t understand how hard people work. Nobody’s going to die if I don’t, but it’s hard work, a lot of physical and energy work. Everyone who does a good job works really hard. Because we are a non-profit organization, we cannot do e-commerce, as we are limited in how much we can score. People always tell us we could go higher, but we’re not allowed to.
How do you want customers to feel about your business?
Hosier: I would like them to understand that it will make a difference. This not only helps the charity, but also keeps the program going. It can actually save someone’s life.
What small business accomplishment are you really proud of?
Hosier: I’m proud of the women who came to us and gave it a try. Even those who didn’t achieve what they wanted, they tried. It’s hard. And that we survived the pandemic! I’m 66 and I have multiple sclerosis — I’m tired! But the very first time someone walked in and said, “This is my favorite store,” my heart melted. It took a long time to get it.
Why should people support small businesses?
Hosier: Small shops and non-profit organizations are an important part of this country. If you only have big box stores, it’s a whole different feeling, and when you support small businesses, you support hard-working little guys. I joke that we may soon start charging store admission as if it were a museum and say this is what a store looked like before Amazon!
What is your favorite product/service that you provide?
Hosier: Our children’s books are wonderful. We sell a lot of books. We have some very good children’s books. I have two grandsons and I’m tired of the clichés, so we wear [baby clothes] with magnets, and I’ll ask for the ones with magnets!
Which small businesses do you support?
Hosier: We are very lucky that the businesses here are very nice and I love all of our local businesses. iN-TEA is a tea shop one block away.
How do most customers find you?
Hosier: Mainly foot traffic, and we have a lot of repeat customers – people who come here every time they come to town. Our customers are very loyal, and they also bring nice things to give away. When we opened [I was told], ‘You can’t mix new and used.’ But some people can’t afford new things, and people love saving. There aren’t too many areas of the old town left to wander around, so we’re in luck here.
Tell us about your tenth anniversary celebration.
Hosier: It’s a week-long celebration running October 8-15 in the store, and we’ll have raffles, specials, gift certificates, and prizes. We celebrate the fact that we have survived a pandemic and are still trying. We are getting old, but we are still trying. One of our board members, Randi, has been with me since before we opened; she helped me apply for nonprofit status, was with us the whole way, and is still there almost every Sunday.
2510 Main Street, Littleton