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Rugged and Unique puts profit percentage in the hands of veterans in need

Times West Virginian - 4/15/2018

April 15--WHITE HALL -- Being the wife of a military veteran, Shirley Webb knows of some financial hardships faced by those who come home after service.

When she retired, she decided to do her part in helping other veterans pay their bills, by opening a shop where she could earn some donation money.

"I got into it because my husband's a veteran and a lot of the family members are veterans," Webb said. "So then whenever you hear of other people talk about the needs of the local veterans, that's why I opened up this store."

Webb's shop, Rugged and Unique, lives in the Middletown Mall where shoppers can both purchase donated items like clothing and conveniences and also drop them off, both actions helping to contribute to her cause. The shop celebrated its first birthday March 1, and previously expanded to a second space a few feet from the original in December 2017.

"I would say 90 percent is donated," Webb said. "If I find that there's some store that's going out of business then I'll go down there and buy some of their stock to put in my store. Without the donations I'm not able to do what I do here."

Webb said she aims to donate at least 10 percent of profits a month to veteran groups, but sometimes manages more and sometimes not. She sends the money out to a local veteran's organization chapter, wanting to keep the money within the state, where it can be distributed based on their needs.

"That's where the money goes, it's to help them," Webb said. "But if people don't shop then I have no money. Every month I write a check out to Disability American Veterans 45, and they get all the communication from the veterans and their needs."

Through the sales from her shop, she has been able to help with many of the different needs.

"I've been able to keep electric on for some of the veterans," Webb said. "I've been able to help pay for the batteries in their mobile wheelchairs, and just whatever some of their needs are."

Webb is also able to directly provide some needs with the donated items in her store. In the past she has donated her donations to veterans in need.

"There was a veteran that came in, he just came out of the service," Webb said. "He needed some clothes so I just told him 'Pick out what you need and it's yours.' So whatever we can do to help them out no matter what it is then we do that."

Of the items in her store, Webb said she has "everything but furniture," with prices for most all her stock staying relatively low. Wedding gowns are the ceiling at about $150. Kid's clothing can be found for about $1 each, with women and men's clothing items running in the $2-$3 range. Browsing around the store will run shoppers into jewelry, board games, purses and shoes.

"I definitely guarantee them at least 10 percent, because I have to pay my rent, utilities and taxes," Webb said. "If I have a really good month, then I double that."

However, Webb said the year got off to a rough start, not enabling her to give away any profits. She is hoping the generosity toward veterans will help her get back on track.

"January and February honestly I couldn't even give them anything," Webb said. "Because I had to take out of my own retirement to put in to pay the rent and utilities for January and February.

"I sent them out a check for March, and we're working on April. We're hoping the business picks up because the more I make the more they get too."

Rugged and Unique is located in the Middletown Mall between Subway and Dickey's Barbecue Pit. It is open from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and more information can be found on the store's Facebook page.

Email Eddie Trizzino at etrizzino@timeswv.com and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

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(c)2018 the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.)

Visit the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.) at www.timeswv.com

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