For more than two decades, the Treasure Cove Thrift Shop was housed in the lounge of Delmar’s First United Methodist Church. The shop finally moved to a bigger location in July, after nearly a year of planning.
Last September, Representatives of the church appeared before the Bethlehem Planning Board to seek approval to move the store to its property at 135 Adams Street, across the parking lot from the Kenwood Avenue church. The new location is much larger and allows for the store to be a permanent fixture in the community.
Treasure Cove manager Linda Graf said one of the main reasons for the move was so volunteers would no longer have to set the store up and put everything away each week when it closes. It also allows the staff to create departments for easier shopping.
“Now that we have moved, the hope is we can stay open more days,” said Graf.
The shop is still open on Tuesdays during the Delmar Farmers Market, but last month, it was decided the shop would also be open during the Saturday Farmers Market at Bethlehem Middle School. The volunteers may now open the shop for a third time each week on Thursday nights.
The Treasure Cove Thrift Shop originally opened in 1993 at the urging of three women from the congregation. After the minister said the idea could have a one-year trial period, more volunteers signed on to get the shop organized.
Jean Pelham was one of the first to volunteer.
“At the time, we had three goals in mind,” said Pelham. “The first was to offer clothing at a low price for needy, or even free. The second was to recycle clothing, and the third was to make money for the church.”
Pelham said at first, the small group of volunteers worried they would run out of clothes. All of the clothes were washed in the beginning, and the volunteers would mend the clothes they could. The group had put notices in the church bulletin telling congregants the shop would open and they were seeking clothes, but that idea didn’t work out well.
What did work was word-of-mouth from the volunteers. Eventually, the greater community started to donate as well, and more people began visiting the shop. Soon, the volunteers were receiving a lot more clothes, and the decision was made to sell only the items in good condition and donate the rest.
This still happens today. The shop also works with an organization that takes clothes in extremely poor condition to be turned into rags. This means very few items have been wasted over the years.
The shop also donates clothes to fire victims and allows them to shop the store for free. Various stage productions contact the shop as well, and often make use of its “vintage closet.” All of the money raised has gone to fund church missions, which can take on various forms, from trips to local volunteering.
Pelham said that from the beginning, one of the biggest issues was setting the store up each time it opened and then taking it back down.
“The thing that kept it going was the determination of the women who founded it,” said Pelham. “All of the volunteers were very hard working and eventually became friends.”
As the years went on, more people began to volunteer for different jobs at different times, and some of the volunteers never met each other. That’s when Pelham decided to some more social events for the group, like a Christmas party and a luncheon. Pelham said the events give the volunteers a chance to get to know one another and relax.
The new shop was set up in early July with the help of some local Boy Scouts.
All of the items were moved from the church on the night of July 1. The volunteers then started organizing the clothes and home décor into departments. Both the upstairs and downstairs of the house have been setup for shoppers.
“I haven’t had a chance to get over there yet, but I imagine it’s very charming,” said Pelham, who helps on a more limited basis because of her age. “It can have a lot more individuality, and now that we have our own place, we can do more to improve it in the future.”
Graf agrees, but said more volunteers are still needed. The shop has about 30 right now, but many have different availabilities. In order to expand the shop’s hours and offerings, more people are needed.
“We had at least 100 visitors last Tuesday, and about 40 on Saturday,” said Graf. “It would be nice to have more people if the number of visitors stay the same.”
To learn more about Treasure Cove Thrift Shop or how to volunteer, call (518) 439-9976.