CLEVELAND — The start of a new school year usually means a financial hit for many educators.
One teacher in Cleveland is on a mission to help her colleagues save some cash while making sure their students have the supplies they need to succeed.
You could call it a valuable lesson in reduce, reuse, recycle.
"A lot of the education items that I used years ago are still around," said Monica Grays, owner of the 2nd Semester Consignment Shop.
2nd Semester is a first-of-its-kind consignment shop.
"Did my homework, looked around a little bit, not one in the country," said Grays.
Grays opened the Wickliffe business that buys and sells educational materials three years ago.
This teacher of 23 years said she, along with many other educators, have a stockpile of learning tools.
"How are those items able to educate our children if they're sitting in someone's basement?" asked Grays.
The National Center for Education Statistics found teachers spend more than $450 of their own money prepping their classrooms each year.
"They spend so much money and they come in and they say, 'I'm so glad there's a place I can bring my things because I spent so much money,'" said Grays.
The shop gives them a chance to recoup some of that cash and buy the things they need.
"If you're coming to a consignment store, you're expecting to get a deal," said Grays.
All the books, games and supplies at 2nd Semester are at least 50% off retail prices, according to Grays.
"A lot of teachers come in and when they check out, they're like, 'That's it!'" Grays said.
2nd Semester is expanding its footprint.
Grays is opening a second location in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood where she knows demand for her products is high.
The Cleveland math teacher crunched the numbers and turned to crowdfunding site Honeycomb Credit for help.
It turns local donors into investors. Those who back the project get a return on investment if it's fully funded.
“I still work full-time and of course in my spare time I run the consignment store, but it's truly been a blessing," said Grays.
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