Photos by Cailey McDermott
Typically, The Mixing Bowl is staffed with one Starpoint consumer and a job coach. John Swartz, a Starpoint consumer, has been working at the store “since the beginning.” From left are Swartz, Kris Voltertsen, Lisa Dominguez and owner Katy Grether.
by Cailey McDermott
Mail Staff Writer
When Katy and Bob Grether decided to open The Mixing Bowl, a kitchenware store, in 2005, they approached Starpoint to see if any of the organization’s consumers would be interested in a job. Starpoint provides services and support to adults and children with cognitive and physical disabilities. The center has been serving Chaffee, Fremont and Custer counties since 1977. Katy Grether said the partnership with Starpoint has been wonderful.
The Grethers moved to Salida in 1999 from Berkeley, Calif., with their developmentally disabled daughter, Molly. Finding employment for Molly was part of the motivation for opening the store, Katy said, and neither Katy nor Bob actually works there.
“We wanted to provide a place where developmentally disabled people could learn employment skills, enrich the community and interact with the public,” Katy said. “We wanted them to realize their dreams.”
Eleven consumers currently work at the store and Katy said they are “very dedicated” to their jobs. Four supervisors, trained as job coaches, also work at the store. Every shift has at least one supervisor and one consumer.
“We have the best employees with great can-do attitudes. We’re very grateful for their help in our store,” she said.
The couple had no retail experience before opening the shop and didn’t know what should be sold. Bob asked local businesses and residents what niche was lacking in local business and repeatedly heard, “kitchenware.” Inspired by Chef Alice Waters, Katy said she tries to promote the idea of “eating local” by selling locally made foods. Waters, a fellow resident of Berkeley, was the inventor of the “slow food” movement, Katy said.
The Mixing Bowl has been part of Salida Business Alliance since opening six years ago. Katy said it’s important for businesses to network and it’s nice to have a sense of camaraderie.
“I’m just proud of my store; it’s part of my identity. I like giving back – that’s my thing,” she said.