Bath market raises nearly $10K for charities

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BATH — The Bath Natural Market kept the holiday giving spirit going one day longer last week, donating all gross sales on Dec. 26 to several nonprofit organizations.

The 36 Centre St. business accumulated more than $4,700 in sales, which, along with an equal match from an anonymous local donor, totalled approximately $9,400 in donations to five organizations: The Bath Area Backpack Program, Bath Food Mobile, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, and Oasis Free Clinics.

Each will receive a check for almost $950 from the market, and a second check in the same amount from the “mystery donor,” the store said in a Dec. 27 press release.

A collection jar at the counter also raised more than $300 for the Bath Area Food Bank.

The event was well-publicized, with the market’s Facebook page garnering much attention from community members, who weighed in on which charities most deserved the funds. In order to whittle down the 30-something charities that residents suggested, the market turned to its six-person staff, owner Mark Schoninger said in an interview Dec. 29.

“Each of them picked five, and then … I tallied up their choices, and I picked the five that got the most votes,” he explained.

Many customers said they’d waited until Dec. 26 to do their shopping so they could support the endeavor, the market reported. Schoninger reported that 161 customers came through the doors that day.

Donating his store’s entire sales – not just profits – for the day was a sacrifice, but one worth making, he said. Despite the expense, it is an endeavor Schoninger said he would consider doing again.

“It was a big hit; it takes many days to make that back up,” Schoninger said, noting that on top of zero revenue for the day, he also had to face overhead costs such as employee payrolls.

Still, it was a way of celebrating 2016, which, he said, has been “a great year for me, because my son was born, and I wanted to honor him.

“And with the election, and the politics, there were a lot of people that were really angsty and frustrated,” Schoninger added. “And I thought it would be a good way to put some good vibes back in the universe.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Amanda Walden was one of 161 customers who shopped at the Bath Natural Market Dec. 26, when the 36 Centre St. business donated all sales to five local charitable organizations.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.