Wil Stiles and his wife and co-owner Molly Bondhus have tried to make a difference in people’s lives with a clothing line that bespeaks the carefree and colorful lifestyle in the desert. Their Palm Springs store is marking its 10th year, but rather than simply relegate the celebration to their customers they decided to mark it by giving back to a cause close to their hearts.
Starting Oct. 15, $500,000 worth of Wil Stiles apparel will appear on the racks at all three Revivals store where 100 percent of proceeds are donated to the Desert AIDS Project (DAP). The act is not just a gesture of giving, but an innate act the couple have carried forward from their lives before the store.
“I’ve never had an instance in my life where giving wasn’t something I was told was important,” says Bondhus. “You know, even growing up super blue collar, my parents went out of their way to always do the delivering of Meals on Wheels, and we left presents on [people’s] doorstep at Christmas anonymously in our neighborhood.”
Stiles adds that there is always a way for individuals to give, whether it is with volunteering or donating.
“If you feel like your hour wasn't well spent and your skill set isn't being utilized, then you should find somewhere else to plug it in… but plug it in,” says Stiles. “So for us, our skill set is what we're already doing for a living. We're generating income for ourselves and buying this fashion, but it's a real easy thing for us to take our skillset of getting good product to DAP or getting good product to Revivals rather than going and volunteering our hours [at DAP]. We're using our skill set to help them.”
Revivals, a resale and new furniture store that was first opened in 1995, is largely volunteer-run and has earned a national reputation as a comprehensive HIV/AIDS service provider in the U.S. Individuals who shop, volunteer or donate to Revivals support DAP. Palm Springs Life readers recognized the store as Best Resale and Vintage Clothing store in Palm Springs in the 2019 Best of the Best competition city by city.
Stiles and Bondhus have engaged with DAP on other occasions, but this time their efforts take on an even more personal note to honor the legacy of philanthropist and restaurateur Barbara Keller, who died of cancer in April 2019. Keller was a DAP board member and a staunch promoter of its efforts. DAP will dedicate part of its new campus as the Barbara Keller LOVE Building.
Wil Stiles and Molly Bondhaus have worked with Desert AIDS Project before on projects, but this time their efforts are to honor the legacy of the late Barbara Keller, who was a DAP board member.
“Our main goal at Revivals is to be a revenue stream to continue the compassionate healthcare that people receive at DAP. And having a partner like Wil, we are able to just be that much better and our financial contribution can be even bigger.”
— Dane Koch, director of retail for DAP
“It’s the leadership, it’s the board members, the volunteers at that place are just crazy good,” Bondhus says about DAP. “They really harness the dollars that they bring in and they use them to best use. But then they also are able to really motivate the community to chip in… these are people who may not be big donors, but they help in any way that they can.”
Both Barbara and Jerry Keller struck a chord with the couple by the example they led for the local small business community, especially Barbara for her business acumen and ability to bring people together into the philanthropic scene and inspire them to act and give. Bondhus admitted it was hard to talk about Barbara in the past tense.
“She was pretty glamorous, amazing, very poised,” says Stiles. “But she had this business acumen and this sort of statesmanship. Like she just sort of had all this intelligence and beauty all rolled up into one package. There’s not a lot of people you meet who really embody that.”
Both natives of Minneapolis, Stiles and Bondhus came to visit Palm Springs and fell in love with the mountainous scenery and subtle, small-town feel, that reminded them of their home. Soon, the couple made Palm Springs their official home in 2009, the same year their store, Wil Stiles, opened its doors.
Molly Bondhus has merchandise ready for Revivals personnel to pick up at the Wil Stiles store.
The two have been active in volunteering and fundraising for LGBTQ and AIDS-related charities in Minneapolis and Palm Springs during their 25 years of owning retail stores, in support of individuals in their inner circle who either identify as LGBTQ, or who have lost their lives to HIV.
The business couple have supported other local and national charities including the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, RAICES, and the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund. They also provide direct financial support to Sanctuary Palm Springs and NCLR.
Stiles and Bondhus’ partnership with Revivals matches well with their business model that does not require a retail sale every six weeks. As a small locally-owned operation, they have the flexibility to decide what they do with their excess inventory.
According to Dane Koch, director of retail for DAP, the couple have been donating to Revivals in support of DAP since the store opened 10 years ago. However, he began working with the couple more closely in 2017, and with it the first business partnership for Revivals.
“We would just drop stuff,” says Bondhus. “But this time we’re being very strategic about giving them super killer stuff. This is a whole new ball game of what they’re getting this time.”
Koch adds that when it came time to expand Revivals’ inventory alongside building their brand furniture business, it was natural for his team to select a leading retailer like Wil Stiles, making it possible for an everyday Revivals shopper to purchase an outfit for a gala event at 75 percent off its normal retail price.
“Our main goal at Revivals is to be a revenue stream to continue the compassionate healthcare that people receive at DAP,” says Koch. “And having a partner like Wil, we are able to just be that much better and our financial contribution can be even bigger.”
Stiles and Bondhus add that donating their over-the-top clothing like faux fur jackets and sequined cutting-edge disco pants from designers in Barcelona and Northern California to Revivals is a win-win for all parties. They hope that other businesses who have surplus product will support DAP and other charities in the same light.