The Sunbird Shopping Center strives to support the community in a number of ways throughout the year at both its Chehalis and Yelm locations.
From providing meaningful employment for 40 to 50 employees in Chehalis and about 20 in Yelm to offering discounts to emergency service workers and military members on Veterans Day and Memorial Day weekends, there are several ways the business has made itself an important part of the communities it serves.
The annual truckload Georgia Boot sale might be its largest annual charitable undertaking.
For the eighth year, both Sunbird Shopping Center locations will be donating $5 from every sale of a pair of Georgia Boots to the Lewis County Food Bank Coalition in Chehalis and Yelm Community Services.
The result in both communities is much-needed sustenance for those who struggle to afford food.
The sale runs from Sept. 19 through Oct. 2, meaning the community organizations targeted for the donations will get the financial infusion in time to assist families during the holidays.
“It goes straight to them so they can distribute it and get more bang for their buck that way,” said Kelli Erb, who handles graphic design and marketing for the business.
The effort has gained momentum every year, with more and more money being collected for the nonprofits in both communities.
Between the Chehalis and Yelm locations, the business began the program eight years ago with donations of about $3,000. Last year, the total was closer to $6,000.
“We push it very hard,” said Ron Sturza, one of the owners of Sunbird Shopping Centers. “We have a good partner in Georgia Boot.”
Sturza is proponent of the “reliable, durable” Georgia Boot products, particularly the Romeo shoes.
“Romeos are a very popular item,” he said. “They can be a slipper, a work shoe, a church shoe if you keep them clean … It goes on and on.”
Sturza added that he believes the business offers the absolute best in customer service.
“I don’t think you’ll find a better crew to get people into the right shoe,” he said.
The Sunbird Shopping Center first opened in Yelm in 2000. The Chehalis location has been around since 1976.
Over the years, both locations have gained a loyal customer following and have employees that have remained at the business for decades in some cases.
The business prides itself in providing superior customer service while also donating to community causes whenever possible.
“We want to take the opportunity to thank our customers for their support over the years,” said co-owner Gus Salloum.
Erb noted that the inventory at both business is always changing as Sunbirds looks to meet the changing demands of customers, with the most recent example being the expansion of the pet department in Chehalis. There’s also new bee-keeping supplies and other products.
Of course, one thing that remains steady is the smell of both locations, marked by the aroma of fresh popcorn that is offered to customers free of charge.
“We have about three generations trained to make the popcorn now,” Sturza joked.
Learn more about Sunbird Shopping Center at sunbirdshoppingcenter.com.