Press enter after choosing selection

Retired Ministers To Hawk Products That Aid Homeless

Retired Ministers To Hawk Products That Aid Homeless image
Parent Issue
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

Retired ministers to hawk products that aid homeless


Talk about missionary work. Don’t be surprised if you see Brother Thomas hawking popcorn and trash bags at your local church.

That’s because John Barfield, the former owner of an Ypsilanti auto parts company, plans to hire retired ministers to spread the word about Amy’s Products Inc., his company that promises to share its profits with homeless people.

But even without salesmen of the cloth, the company that he and his son launched earlier this year has been expanding rapidly, signing up three more supermarket chains and distributors who have agreed to sell its Share brand products, which feature the gaunt portrait of “Amy,” a homeless woman.

“It couldn’t be better. The response is just incredible,” said Barfield.

Meijer Inc. has reordered since it became the first retailer to place the company’s popcorn and bags on its shelves in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana in late June, he said. Kmart Corp. and other nationwide retailers are interested as well, he added.

Perhaps taking his cue from Paul Newman and his salad dressings, Barfield has pledged to give at least half of the profits from the new company to the United Way for the Salvation Army and other organizations that give food and shelter to the homeless. Barfield said he is considering a third product to add to the company’s lineup, either breakfast cereal or dried beans and peas.

Barfield recently hired the company’s third employee, a national marketing manager, and hopes to take its products nationwide early next year at a retailers' convention.

But the 65-year-old Barfield said he plans to enlist retired preachers and big city mayors in his marketing efforts as well.

Barfield, a high school dropout turned entrepreneur, built one of the nation's largest black-owned businesses before deciding recently to turn his business talents in a new direction. He said earlier this year that his goal is to “spend the rest of my life doing things that make me feel good about myself.”