Selling Gently Used Collectibles for Charity

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Photo provided by the author
Carole Markwell, part of the mother-daughter duo who manage the collectibles department, displays a lovely old pitcher at the Second Chance Shop.

For a dozen years a mother and daughter team has managed the collectibles department at The Second Chance Shop, selling everything from a 135-year-old water pitcher to Beatrix Potter figurines to beer stein assortments.

“We get these beautiful collections donated from people. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy it,” says Carole Markwell who gushes like an excited teenager discussing her first job. “It’s like someone’s life history that you’re looking at.”

You wouldn’t guess that Carole has been a volunteer with the nonprofit for 25 years, while her daughter Lynne has been at it for 22 years.

Their collectibles department is second only to women’s fashions in sales for the all-volunteer shop that sells gently used products and donates all its profits to The Village for Families and Children in Hartford.

Their specialties

Through internet searches, Carole spends ten to fifteen hours per week pricing the donations at home and another 10 hours a week at the shop sorting and preparing items for display. “My husband’s aunt loved antiques and glassware. Years ago, she taught me the names of different kinds of glassware and lots more,” she says.

Lynne is the decorator in collectibles. “It lets me be creative,” she says. “It’s a challenge when I see what people donate. I have to put it all together to make a display that others find pleasing, will want to buy and maybe recreate in their homes.”

Sharing her mother’s enthusiasm she says, “It amazes me what people donate. Beautiful things. It’s always fun.”

Unique items

Carole and Lynne enjoy recounting the one-of-a-kind items they’ve sold. There was the set of risqué, art deco cards, the sword-shaped letter opener made from Ipe wood, a glass knife with a floral-patterned handle, a collection of wooden decoys from all over the world, a leather tankard with a beer stein and cup and an extensive collection of strawberry-themed kitchenware – from teacups to decanters.

Carole says, “When I see a gem among the donations, I think, “this is going to make good money for the shop.”

Earlier careers

Long before working there, Carole created stained glass mirrors and lamps which she sold to shops. Later she served ten years as a long-term substitute elementary teacher in Suffield. After that she was a supervisor in the copier division of the company now known as Konica Minolta Business Solutions in Windsor.

Lynne previously spent 33 years as an elementary school teacher and reading consultant in Windsor. Along with helping her mother with collectibles, she enjoys training new volunteers and is the Saturday Day Manager who reminds volunteers of their scheduled work times.

Social benefit

When asked what she likes most about working at the shop, Lynne doesn’t hesitate, “Working with my mom. I’m learning from her. She has so much knowledge about antiques. I love that part.”

And then there are the friendships. “I’ve met so many strong, talented, dedicated, caring women who volunteer at the shop,” she notes. “It blows my mind the remarkable women who volunteer there.”

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