Since it opened in December, Sharp Dressed Man has given free suits to more than 600 men seeking to re-enter the workforce. The Baltimore nonprofit works with men who have experienced homelessness, incarceration or have disabilities among, other challenges.
But an electrical fire Tuesday forced the Park Avenue shop to close and has put its immediate future in jeopardy.
While nobody was hurt and no inventory was damaged by the fire, Executive Director Jenny Kessler Klump said the organization has been instructed to not use the space due to safety concerns, and it needs help to make sure it can continue its mission.
“(We) serve these men and give them the self confidence that they often do not receive in other places,” said Klump. “We provide an incredibly needed service.”
Sharp Dressed Man was already gearing up to launch its first major fundraising campaign this month, but the fire has since moved up that timeline.
The organization provides men with a suit, shirt, belt and tie that they get to keep. The items are all donated, cleaned and in good condition.
“We very carefully curate and make sure we have a good quality inventory,” said Klump.
The organization also has a style team to make sure the men look professional for their job interviews.
“We judge each other based on first impressions,” said Klump, adding that these men can lose a job opportunity because they don’t have the right clothing. “If we can give them that extra opportunity … then we have succeeded.”
Sharp Dressed Man is collecting donations on its website, and has set a goal of raising $50,000. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, the organization had raised $1,670.
“Money is the most critical aspect,” said Klump.
The organization is now contemplating whether it’s going to stay and renovate its Park Avenue location or move somewhere new. It has no place to keep its inventory.
Gov. Larry Hogan’s office held a suit drive for the organization, which included suit donations from the governor himself. Representatives from the office will be visiting the store today, a visit that was scheduled before the fire. Klump hopes the visit will draw more attention to the organization and help raise the money it needs to get back on its feet.
“We want to get back to work so we can get other people back to work,” she said.