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For This Organization, Volunteer Support Is What Makes Pigs Fly

For a nonprofit organization, ensuring a consistent stream of income is essential. That was the inspiration for When Pigs Fly, an upscale resale and retail shop operated by the Piggyback Foundation in Norwalk, OH, and the grand prize winner in our Make Your Idea Happen contest. The foundation was started to help families in the local community who are facing a life-threatening illness, such as cancer, maintain normalcy for the children in the family. It supports more than 30 families a month, and partly thanks to When Pigs Fly, was able to give out over $100,000 in 2013 (almost half of the funds came from the store).

Staples caught up with Lisa Hiler, the foundation’s director, to learn more about how When Pigs Fly provides joy for customers, volunteers and those who benefit from the foundation, and why life is good, no matter what happens.

What is the goal of When Pigs Fly?

Our dream was to be an upscale resale shop, not because we wanted to be uppity or out of reach for the general population or market, but because Piggyback is about bringing joy to life, creating peace, less stress and making things lovely. We wanted our shop to be a pleasant place to come to, filled with the joy of life, little treasures and an understanding of the cause behind the shop. People come to When Pigs Fly because it makes them happy — to work there, volunteer their time using their creative talents or just to purchase something knowing that it helps bring joy to a family in need.

Other than sales, how do you define success?

I think of success as a learning process which in the end develops into a positive growth experience — not only for myself but for all who are involved.

With that in mind, I believe we’re successful because we’ve had a positive impact on families in need and on our community. But also, we’ve been successful because we were not afraid to fail, we were not afraid to ask questions when we didn't understand, and we were not afraid to seek out advice from people wiser, more talented and more experienced than ourselves. We surround ourselves with talented people who have an excellent work ethic. It takes tenacity and a passion that’s greater than our doubts. A cause that drives us to keep going when we feel tired, burned out or overwhelmed. We constantly remind ourselves not to let the what if's creep into our thoughts and that there are families and people out there who need us to be successful, to help bring hope and a little joy into their life as they struggle with the challenge of facing a life-threatening illness.

What is your secret for making more happen?

Inspirational joy. When Pigs Fly is about creating joy for Piggyback Foundation families, volunteers and customers. The more we share our joy of helping, the more people want to be a part of it. It makes them feel good and it makes our shop successful.

How do you spread the word about When Pigs Fly?

We have done very little paid advertising, because we like to keep our expenses to a minimum. Instead, we rely on word of mouth, and Facebook has been our best marketing resource for that. It’s easy to keep current, and a large number of people check it weekly. We tell customers about our foundation, our mission and what their purchase means to our Piggyback Foundation families. We also work with our Chamber of Commerce and our Main Street district to encourage people to shop. And we do public speaking engagements, in which we share our mission in a more personal way.

What’s the one thing you can’t run the store without?

The service of our volunteers. We currently have about 30 volunteers. We literally could not function without them. A Girl Scout troop volunteered to help with the startup of our business by doing a variety of tasks such as designing our donation forms, signs and donation area layout. They even spearheaded a donation drive called Pass the Pig for Piggyback. Other volunteers include the local high school’s Project Leadership group, which comes in for about an hour a week; the handyman who fixes donated furniture; the young father of five who still finds time to do pickups and deliveries for us; and the faithful regulars who put in 2- to 4-hour shifts — sometimes more — keeping our shop clean and beautiful. We are truly thankful.

Is there a quote you live by? If so, what is it and who said it?

This is a quote that means a lot to me: "Life is good, no matter what!" Holly Ann Sneider said that. She was a Piggyback Foundation recipient who lost her battle with cancer in 2011. Holly lived graciously by this motto, through every step of journey with cancer. We share this quote on our wall behind the checkout counter at When Pigs Fly as an inspiration to all and to remind us that we are all on this journey of life together, and it is good no matter what we face!

What role does Staples play in helping the store and the foundation succeed?

With a limited budget for supplies, organizational materials and print materials, we’ve done our best to create a professional look for our charity and resale shop. We enjoy working with Staples’ friendly staff to create posters and printed materials that give us the look we would like to portray.

Products to Help When Pigs Fly Make More Happen:

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