By: Alex Auer (’18), Contributing Writer Photographer: Tanya Breen
The store shares a building with One-Hour Modernizing Dry-Cleaning, another small, local business. One must walk past the floor-length windows featuring racks and racks of freshly pressed clothes to find the thrift shop. It’s tucked away and marked by a single, white door. The grandma’s-house scent of mothballs and lavender overwhelms the space. The shop is meticulously organized, with clothing racks organized as neatly as those at the neighboring dry-cleaner encircling tables of household goods, glass vases and what was once someone’s ‘good china.’
The shop, located on 33 Kings Road, has operated for 75 years selling secondhand clothing and housewares. The business was founded in 1942 and has volunteers from Madison and Chatham. Uniquely, for a business located in a wealthy neighborhood and competitive field, all of their sales are donated to local and national charities. The beneficiaries of The Independent Thrift Shop’s good will include the Madison YMCA and Salvation Army.
This altruistic thrift shop’s goal is to help others by selling items at moderate prices as Janet and Inga explained. The money being raised goes to 13 different charities. The thrift shop has many unique items such as glassware, silver and porcelain bowls and cups, women’s and men’s clothing and household goods, among other collectibles. The shop is open three days a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Beverley Davie, the owner of The Independent Thrift Shop, passed away in late January and was buried on Jan. 31, 2018, with many volunteers and locals attending her service to show their appreciation and love for her. She ran the shop for many years and was described by her coworker Janet as a “fantastic lady.” Davie was the heart of the shop, and took it on as a venture after retiring. Janet explained, “This is the type of work I always wanted to do, it motivates me every day.” What was once a hobby became a new career for Davie, who had been profiled in several Morris County-area newspapers and dedicated herself to the thrift shop business.
There are many successes and challenges in the thrift shop business, one being that there are many other similar types of shops in the local area. Inga, who has worked at the shop for over 10 years, said, “Everything is a challenge, especially when finding volunteers.” She emphasized the importance of helping others and how someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure, and with the money being donated to multiple charities there is a major sense of satisfaction. The shop is working double duty, providing plenty of items for people at a discount, and then turning the profit over in donation. To keep the shop running effectively, those behind it have arranged a scheduling scheme. Inga mentioned, “We prepare for the future holidays to come and we are already getting ready for Easter.”
The shop has an organization meeting once a month down the street at the First Aid Squad where the volunteers decide who is going to be working on what days and to plan accordingly.
Janet explained the way the business performs as well as it does, saying, “The more we take in the more we can give away, and some of the major donors get a tax write off for their generosity.” Nothing gets wasted. Some clothing or goods that have been there for a while and that may not be perfect, such as stained clothing or chipped glasses, get repurposed by giving the items to the Morristown Mission, according to Janet.
One can find unique, unfamiliar items as they enter the store ,perhaps looking to kill a bit of time and instead becoming charmed by the donated goodies. New items come in every day. When the ladies price the item it goes straight to the tables or on a hanger and may be purchased for fewer than 10 dollars.
The Independent Thrift Shop, as Janet and Inga explained, has opened them up to people they haven’t had contact with before, as there is a major social aspect behind it. The Independent Thrift Shop has been nothing but rewarding for all the volunteers involved, and they plan on keeping it that way as it has gotten so much positive feedback and produced many wonderful experiences. Janet and Inga continue to work in Davie’s memory, as they arrange the store for the next holiday, they do so with their love of Davie in the back of their minds.