With one year behind them, managers Donna Lynn and B.J. Cohen are more than pleased with the success of the Atlantic General Hospital Thrift Shop and can say with satisfaction that the little shop in the Save-A-Lot Plaza storefront is here to stay.
Running with an idea sparked by the Maryland Association of Hospital Auxiliaries, the two began with touring thrift shops run by hospital auxiliaries across the Delmarva Peninsula and elsewhere. They then moved on to selecting a location, which was a daunting task straight out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This one was too small, that one too large; this one was too expensive, that one wasn’t in a great location.
They liked the location that is now home to the thrift shop, but the owner of the plaza was already in negotiation with another renter. When the deal fell through, Lynn and Cohen pounced on it.
The space, which was once a Laundromat, required a great deal of work. “But, we looked and saw the possibilities,” said Cohen.
They couldn’t have hoped for a better location. It was just right.
“Being novices, we wanted something simple,” said Cohen. But with the help of Donna Lynn’s husband, Fred, and the rest of the renovation crew as well as the hours put in by other hospital auxiliary members, the store turned out to be something truly unique and wonderful.
Unlike many thrift stores that are little more than boxy rooms with blank walls and rows of clothing and other merchandise, the Atlantic General Hospital Thrift Shop has the feel of a specialty shop. The Auxiliary members say many patrons appreciate the shop’s classy atmosphere, something the more than 80 volunteers work hard to maintain.
Auxiliary member Beryl Whiteside and her team of designers dress the front window and regularly change the display according to season or special occasion. Scarves and handbags along with small household items are artfully displayed alongside the clothing, shoes and other merchandise.
Open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., the shop enjoys a brisk business regardless of the time of year, drawing tourists and townspeople alike. And, Lynn no longer has to lose sleep over the possibility that the donations will stop: the shop regularly receives donations on the designated drop-off days of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – and every day in between.
The AGH Thrift Shop isn’t just heaven for savvy bargain shoppers but a haven to the needy in the community as well. The thrift shop provides vouchers for free clothing to various human service organizations, such as Agape, Family Services of Berlin, Family Services of Pocomoke City, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Diakonia, and even the hospital. The organizations fill out the vouchers specifying what is needed and send individuals to the shop, and the volunteers help them select items.
Although expansion may be somewhere in the future, it’s the distant future. “About 80 Auxiliary members work here, but really we have a core volunteer base of about nine people who give more than 25 hours a month to the shop,” said Lynn. “We always need more volunteers.”
Staffing the five days a week they’re open as well as the Mondays they’re rearranging the shop and setting up new donations for display can sometimes be a challenge. Because most of the volunteers are retired seniors, a great many of them head to warmer climes during the winter months and illness is a more common concern.
“Even if a volunteer can work only a few times a month, it’s a help,” said Cohen. “And, it’s a great opportunity for Auxiliary members to make friends. “It’s a fun atmosphere, and you really get to know the other volunteers you’re working with – and the clientele as well.”
AGH Thrift Shop management greatly appreciates all the generous donations received at the store, but requests that they be made on the designated drop off days of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during store hours. Due to the small size of the shop, no large household items can be accepted and donating only those clothing items that are currently in season is appreciated. For more information about the AGH Thrift Shop or how to become a volunteer there, please call 410-641-1447.
The Atlantic General Hospital Thrift Shop celebrates its one-year anniversary in December. It’s the work of dedicated volunteers Beth Riley (left), Donna Lynn, B.J. Cohen, Fred Lynn, and Mary Knight and some 80 other Auxiliary members that has made the thrift shop a success.
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