Grand Traverse Industries closed Paperworks Studio Wednesday. The nonprofit organization employs people with disabilities to make homemade greeting cards.
The decision comes after a struggle to achieve financial sustainability.
In January, GTI and Goodwill entered a six month joint agreement to operate Paperworks.
When Grand Traverse Industries officially took over Paperworks Studio at the start of March, it shut down production immediately.
â??They had invested a lot of money and never got it to the point where it was self-sufficient,â?? said Steve Perdue, President and CEO of Grand Traverse Industries. â??There was $100k worth of inventory. There were no sales, and no need to make any new cards.â??
Putting production aside, GTI got to work on the sales plan and employment training.
When news that they weren't going to secure community support came about a week and a half ago, they made the call to abandon ship.
â??Really, Goodwill and GTI had no choice. We put in time and effort. To say for that reason, which was the only one outside our control, â??we can't move forwardâ?? was hard. Absolutely,â?? admitted Perdue.
The handmade cards are loved by many people in the community. Many are disappointed the program has to be stopped, both because of the quality of the cards but also the organization's commitment to employing disabled workers.
â??It's a sad thing to see it go because it was all recycled paper and it gave them things to do,â?? said Kate Redman of Kalkaska. â??They have real flowers, real leaves in them. They were textured. They were the real deal. They were handmade. You can't beat that.â??
Perdue said despite the city's emotional attachment, it was purely a business decision. Even though they've closed the doors, all of the employees were given jobs by GTI.
â??We've employed into full-blown employment and training programs ten people with disabilities. They are now working more hours, making more money and love their jobs,â?? said Perdue.
The remaining Paperworks cards can be found at local stores, such as Olesonâ??s, Tomâ??s, and Horizon Books. The businesses will be able to supply them until the inventory is gone.
Perdue said he's not completely ruling out community funding.
â??We knew it had a great emotional attachment in this town for certain people. Nobody has made that call to me this morning and said, â??I'll write you a check,â??â?? said Perdue.
Goodwill is deferring questions to Grand Traverse Industries.
GTI said it's up to Goodwill as to what happens with the Paperworks building.