New director takes helm at thrift shop
After 20 years under the same leadership, the thrift shop at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church has a new director.
Sue Fay, who until 2010 served for seven years as the parish administrator, has returned to take over the responsibilities from longtime director Peter Hoagland.
According to Fay, she has no previous experience at the thrift shop. However, she is well known to the staff and parishioners because of her time in the office. In July, Fay noticed the church was looking for a new director. After two weeks she saw that nobody had stepped forward, so she offered to step in. Her offer was readily accepted.
“We are thrilled to welcome Sue as the new director of our thrift shop,” said Kevin Lloyd, pastor. “She has a longstanding relationship with St. Matthew’s and she’s committed to helping our thrift shop continue to thrive.”
Fay said her new job came with a steep learning curve. Her responsibilities include opening the shop on Tuesdays and Saturdays, as well as bringing in donations that have been left outside and sorting them. She also helps the volunteers get ready for the day’s business. She brings down the cash box from the office, and cashes out at the end of the day.
“Some of the sorters have been there for a very long time,” Fay said. “They are very reliable and know exactly what they’re doing. So I don’t really need to supervise that much. I just help out.”
During the rest of the week, Fay, who lives near the church, walks over to make sure donations that has been left outside are brought indoors. While she prefers that people drop off things when the shop is open, she understands it’s not always convenient. If the church office is open, even if the thrift shop is not, she prefers people bring the goods to the office.
Fay said people tend to leave things at all hours of the day. One Saturday night she checked and found nothing outside. The next afternoon she went back and there were two couches left outside, despite a sign asking people not to leave furniture. One of the pieces was dirty and worn and headed for the dumpster. The other was in better shape. Fay was about to call the Salvation Army, but before she could, a visitor to the shop spotted it and took it.
“In that case it worked out OK,” she said, “but ordinarily it’s not.”
While the thrift shop has a high volume of donations, some things don’t sell quickly. Fay removes the unwanted items from the shop and brings them to other charities.
The highly experienced sorters help to make Fay’s job easier, she says. Linda Martin, Coffee Bell and Susan Warszawski have been volunteering at the thrift shop for a number of years.
“They’ve been there the longest,” Fay said. “They have a lot of experience. They know what kinds of things will sell well. They’re very discriminating. The clothing they put out needs to be of good quality, and clean with no tears. If it’s not up to their standards, it gets passed on to another charity.”
Some of the items that come into the shop appear to have a little more value than others. That’s where Catherine Kelleher comes in. Kelleher researches the items to determine their value. One of Fay’s goals is to begin offering the more expensive things on eBay.
“We don’t get a lot of those items, but we do get a few,” Fay said. “Catherine has a good eye for those things.”
In addition to clothing, small household items are accepted. Fay cautions that she isn’t interested in furniture that takes more than one person to lift. She also doesn’t want people to drop off televisions or mattresses. While she does appreciate the gesture, Fay said there isn’t enough storage room at the church.
Fay said occasionally unusual items are donated. The oddest recent donation was an antique chandelier. The piece was finally sold last weekend when a couple came into the shop. The husband tried to talk his wife out of it, but the wife prevailed and the chandelier found a new home.
The thrift shop also features a free table. Items that prove difficult to sell are placed on it, and anyone is welcome to them. Offerings might include a bowl that has a small chip in it, or jigsaw puzzles that have been opened and used. Items on the free table change all the time.
People in need can count on the thrift shop to help them, says Fay. As an example, she said military families who need items to get started continue to find help at the shop. In the past, the shop has also donated clothing for costumes for high-school plays.
The appointment of the new director is not the only change for the thrift shop. Beginning this week, the shop will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. Its regular hours, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays, won’t change.
While Lloyd is happy with Fay taking over, he is also sad to see Hoagland go after 20 years.
“He did an incredible job over many years as thrift shop director, overseeing a remarkable period of change and growth for the shop,” Lloyd said. “He helped see us through our recent renovations, and leaves it in tremendous shape for the future. I can’t say enough about his dedication to the thrift shop and St. Matthew’s.”