Like many businesses/organizations in town, the Second Chance Shop in Suffield was drastically affected by COVID. The Shop, an all-volunteer organization located next to Windsor Federal Bank in the Suffield Plaza, raises money for The Village for Families and Children in Hartford, a non-profit which in turn provides a myriad of services for the underserved and underprivileged in Hartford County.
Prior to COVID in 2019, the Shop’s 142 volunteers kept the store open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a total of 41 hours per week. With worries about COVID and the recommendation to stay close to home and socially distance, the number of volunteers dwindled to 85, and the Board was forced to reduce the Shop’s hours to only 16 per week: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There have been no board meetings since May of 2020, but more recently there have been a few conducted on Zoom.
The silver lining, however, was that even with the reduction in hours, the group generated $97,700 which was 85% of pre-COVID 2019 sales! That’s a tribute to the Shop’s dedicated volunteers and board led by co-presidents Ellen Peterson and Jayne Hastings. This was in part due to an online sales presence the group maintained through Facebook, Instagram and Ebay. Every Sunday, Peterson takes pictures of clothing and merchandise available in the store and her husband, Tony, produces an email for customers. Tarynn Fife then posts the pictures on the group’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Separate items not available in the shop are posted on eBay by Lynne Markwell and Lynn Weisel. Customers can buy these items on line and then pay for shipping or arrange to pick them up in the store.
At present the store is totally closed due to the surge in COVID cases, but it is hoped that by the beginning of February, the Shop can return to its 16 hour week. In the meantime, items can still be donated by going to the back door during what were the regular hours (M, T, Th, and Saturday 10-2). And while several members fulfill the minimum requirement of one shift of two hours a month, the heavy lifting has been done, in addition to those already named, by shop managers Janeene Crane and Chris Rago, and sales manager Barbel Roder. They are ably assisted by individuals, called mentors, who are in charge of pricing items in the various categories of sales. These categories include linens (Kathy Perleoni, Darlene Burrell, Margo Burns), shoes (Helene Segool and Pat Geckler), accessories (Mary Williamson), collectibles (Carole and Lynne Markwell), designer clothing (Barbel Roder and Carol Komosa), purses (Jackie Marien and Laura Reeves) and jewelry (Flo Egan, Nancy Hess, and Marti Andryzeck).
So, if you are in the market for some beautiful and reasonably priced items, until the store reopens, please check out the Second Chance Shop on Facebook for new items posted weekly. You can also sign up for emails there alerting you to upcoming sales and events. Just be sure you are on the Suffield shop’s page as there are also Second Chance Shops in Simsbury, Glastonbury and West Hartford which also donate all their proceeds to The Village .