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WorkinCT: SockStarz on the right track in giving back

The business was born out of funding from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — It’s a business with a mission of giving back.  SockStarz on LaSalle Road in West Hartford opened in September as a social enterprise owned by HARC, a non-profit that helps people with intellectual disabilities.  The business was born out of funding from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. 

“We sell primarily socks.  We have about twenty different vendors.  In this space we have about a thousand different styles of sock.  We’re on trend with just really bold and colorful socks or great geometric prints,” said Patricia Kinney, the general manager at SockStarz.

Many of those different vendors have missions of their own that reflect SockStarz’s commitment to the community.

“Our goal when we started SockStarz was to number one, raise money for HARC.  It’s another way of raising money besides donations and other avenues.  But secondly, since one of the missions of HARC is to create employment for people with intellectual disabilities, this was a way to also serve that mission as well,” said Kinney.

Participants with HARC staff the store.

“It provides opportunity for participants to have meaningful employment, and that’s on the back end of the store, in the warehousing and stocking of the socks and all the products, to being on the front line and providing customer service and cashier service,” said Najib Habesch, HARC’s Board Chairman.

To have those opportunities and a steady stream of funding is a win-win for HARC.  It allows the non-profit to not be as reliant on state and federal funding, which can be uncertain during these challenging times.

“To have control over our own business, our own outcomes, at least to the extent we can once you brush the COVID-19 aside, it does allow us to go back.  We didn’t have to lay off the employees who were involved with SockStarz, have those opportunities once again with the store reopening,” said Habesch.

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During this pandemic, SockStarz has even taken things a step further selling hand sanitizer at the store.  It also sells masks that HARC volunteers have made themselves.  They’ve already sold about 200 of them.

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