Baltimore non-profit Friendly Loving Opportunities (FLO) has opened a new furniture store called FLO Reborn at 1900 Bayard St. in Carroll-Camden Industrial Area. The store was launched to create revenue for FLO’s mission of helping the homeless and needy in Baltimore and the surrounding areas.
FLO was founded in 2015 by Nigerian-born, Baltimorean Godfrey Molen as a way to honor the legacy his mother Florence EgbireMolen.
“A passion of hers was to help people,” said Molen of his mother who passed away in 2013. “She was humble, selfless, and very giving. She’s without a doubt my inspiration and motivation and call to serve the community.”
Molen said EgbireMolen began her work in the community in Nigeria and continued it upon moving to Baltimore.
FLO helps homeless families, families transitioning from shelters or rehabilitation to a home, and families in need of groceries, furniture, hot meals, school supplies, and more.
Molen said the furniture assistance program has become so big that his company was renting 76 storage units at U-Haul. Along with giving away furniture, his crew delivers the pieces, brings the furniture into homes, assembles furniture if needed, and makes repairs to furniture that needs some extra love.
With a need to keep all the furniture in one space and a desire to generate income beyond grants and donations, Molen had the idea to start a furniture store.
1900 Bayard St. is a three-story, 47,000 sq. ft. building with a freight elevator. The first floor is currently the store showroom, and the additional floors are used for storage and furniture repairs. Molen said the goal is to soon have a second-floor showroom as well.
Prior to the move to South Baltimore, FLO was based out of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Northeast Baltimore.
FLO has two full-time employees and eight apprentices. The employees and apprentices are men who have experienced some type of hardship.
“A lot of the guys here have a story to share,” said Molen.
Molen hopes the store is successful so he can grow his team. He also hopes to have additional locations in the future.
Molen said he looked all over the city for the right location for FLO Reborn and came close to signing a lease on Reisterstown Rd., but had second thoughts. 1900 Bayard St. was initially for sale, but his agent later got a call that it could also be rented. It was love at first sight, according to Molen.
“I’m a prayer warrior. God led me here and led my organization here. It’s tailor-made for what we do. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better space to be in,” said Molen.
1900 Bayard St., which used to be a commercial bakery, has high ceilings so FLO can stack furniture on shelving. FLO will also be using the space to make meals for the homeless.
Molen hopes his South Baltimore location will address needs in South Baltimore neighborhoods such as Westport, Cherry Hill, and Pigtown, as well as assist homeless individuals living along Martin Luther King Blvd.
The exterior of the building was recently painted gray, the first floor was remodeled into the furniture showroom, and the upper floors are completely filled with furniture that can be sold or donated. Molen’s team also now has dedicated space for furniture repairs.
FLO Reborn is open Wednesday to Monday from 9am to 5pm. The non-profit accepts donations.
About the Author: Kevin Lynch
Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O’s fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and “bar food” foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.