Serendipity, the thrift store run by volunteers from St. Andrew's Church, will close its doors March 3.
The store started out as a small operation in the church, then moved to Wall Street, then to Bradley Road, and finally to its current location on at 200 Boston Post Road in the west end of town.
The lease for the space is up in March and church officials decided not to renew it because profits are down and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find volunteers to staff all of the shifts.
After prayerful consideration ...
The decision to close the store was made in early January, after an open meeting was held at the church, attended by about 30 people, according to an article in the church bulletin. "It was determined, after prayerful consideration, not to renew the lease," the bulletin article says.
The bulletin attributed the long time success of the store, which has been operating since 2006, to dedicated volunteers. Those volunteers include Laura Downes, Kristen Garnett, Nancy Karas, Sue Morriss, Doreen Sproule, Helen Kitzman, Sue McCann, Lisa Tenny, Amy Jamison and others, including some from surrounding communities such as Marilyn Barnett from Clinton.
The store, over the years, has raised money for the outreach and operating budget of the church. But then the economy, and increasing demands on the time offered by volunteers, eventually took its toll, the article says.
Volunteers working outside of the home, or wintering elsewhere ...
"The Managers and MITs (Managers In Training) gradually and increasingly fell into two categories, those who work outside the home and those that spend months of the year away from Connecticut," the article said. "It became clear that there were few, if any, volunteers willing to become Managers and make the decisions necessary to fun a successful retail operation. As the Managers and MITs had less time and focus for Sependipity, the profits of the store declined."
The article notes that the store not only brought in valuable support for the church, but that it also served as a face for the church in the community, and as a place where "customers came in to socialize as well as shop."
Volunteer Laura Downes said she agreed and said she would miss working with the volunteers, and with the customers as well.
"It just didn't make sense to renew"
"It just didn't make sense to renew," she said. "But I am going to miss this place."
Downes agreed that the store was as much about creating a sense of community and outreach as a place to sell cast off items. She said many customers, in particular, came in to see Marilyn Barnett, who was working with Downes at the shop on a recent afternoon.
Making time for people who are lonely or having a bad day
"We had good customers and bad customers," she said. But she added that volunteers, including herself, were always willing to stay a little bit late or do whatever extra work was needed to make the customers happy. And sometimes that meant just making the time to have a conversation with someone who was lonely or having a bad day.
At the same, Downes said, the store also was a great example of how one person's trash can be another person's treasure. She said many donated good went on to find new homes with people who were thrilled with their new finds. She said it was funny how one person might come in and donate some curtains. And another person would come in and donate pillows, and they would match. As in, the exact same fabric.
Maybe they were using the same decorator?
"Either that or they are all shopping at Home Goods," she said, laughing.
The letter to customers
Dear Loyal Customer,
A new year brings new beginnings and changes for Serendipity Consignments, a Ministry of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. After prayerful consideration, we have come to the conclusion that we will not renew our lease at 200 Boston Post Road.
For the past six years, Serendipity has been managed and staffed by a hard working group of dedicated volunteers. As lives transition, we have found it difficult to replace those volunteers. Children have grown and gone off to college, volunteers are now working outside the home, parents have convalesced and passed, grandchildren have been born. We have shared these stories with you and you with us. For that we are grateful. It is that daily interaction and our presence in the community we will miss so much, as St. Andrew’s has operated a thrift store in Madison for decades.
Profits from Serendipity are directed to St. Andrew's and split between the Outreach Fund and the Operating Budget. This has allowed St. Andrew's to support significant ministries locally, nationally and internationally. St. Andrew's will continue to explore ways to maintain those commitments in the future.
We will be open Tuesday, January 10 through Saturday, March 3 with lots of items for sale. Donated winter items will be accepted through January 31. We will, however, no longer accept consignments. Consignors may pick up their unsold items during store hours. Consignor payouts will be processed in March. All items left in the store as of March 3rd will be donated to other non-profit entities.
If you have any questions, please call the store at 203-245-4731 and leave a detailed message and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.
Thank you for your support over the years.
The Volunteer Staff of Serendipity Consignments