BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It hasn't been open long, but the idea behind a new shopping center in Baton Rouge is already taking off.
The 9,000 square foot shopping center that used to be the old Woodburner's building at 2575 O'Neal Lane now occupies 35 vendors. Dr. Jo Monroe, PhD, took over the facility at the start of 2015 and named it "Roundabout Mercantile." It's an antique mall and clothing resale facility.
Monroe is also the director of the Frances Center on Terrell Road in Baton Rouge. While the Frances Center provides various services and training for adults with disabilities, Roundabout Mercantile allows those adults to work side-by-side with vendors who do not have disabilities.
"In envisioning the next step and growing and expanding into this, we decided to mix them with non-disabled vendors to look at that relationship and see if it would foster more of an apprenticeship or a learning type of relationship," Monroe said.
Vendors like Al Amantea said the concept is working and that he has enjoyed working with Monroe's clients.
"They're great people to work with," Amantea said.
"We remind people all the time that these products and things we produce here are by-products. Our outcome is the clients and the people we serve," Monroe added.
Monroe hopes to gain funding to eventually open a sewing center inside Roundabout Mercantile. The goal would be to have a place where her clients can develop new skill sets and provide alterations services to customers.
To donate money, gently used clothing or furniture to this cause, you can visit the new facility on O'Neal Lane or the Frances Center at 14747 Terrell Road.