Timothy J. Carroll – April 5th, 2009
It was a Louis Vuitton purse. A woman walked into the Hoboken University Medical Center Auxiliary Thrift Shop on Garden Street last week and hung on the rack a slightly weathered but authentic Louis Vuitton purse. One of the devoted volunteer staffers keenly spotted the purse in the background. “Bring it up here,” said volunteer Margo Guglielimelli. She took the purse and moved it into the glass display case with a sign on it: “Better quality items will be priced higher.”Higher prices are a relative at the small shop on 536 Garden St., when most regular items are less than $5. Electronics and appliances are under $10. But that doesn’t mean the items are run of the mill leftovers. A onesey hung from the children’s rack with the original price tag still attached, and the staff said more brand-name items come in all the time: Liz Claiborne, Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic. Manager Joan Markey said people flock to the electronics, kitchen wares, and pots and pans. When new clothes come in, they fly off the rack, Markey said. The staff members are all volunteers, the merchandise is all donated, and ever dime of profit goes to Hoboken University Medical Center on Willow Avenue. The shop was able to donate $55,000 last year, which was put toward the new emergency room being built at the hospital, Markey said.The auxiliary group also runs the hospital’s gift shop. When she is at the gift shop, Guglielimelli spends most of her time selling balloons, flowers, and toiletries to visiting families. She, like most of the dedicated staff, has volunteered her time to the Auxiliary since she retired three years ago.
A Penny pincher paradise. Another volunteer, Sonia Meyers, said the thrift shop is as busy as ever in these economic times. “You open up, and it’s standing room only,” she said. Cashier Joanne Briton said she is glad the store is busy, but that some of the cost-conscious customers go a little too far.“ There are some that argue with you over 20 cents,” she said, “but they have these rings on their fingers and their nails are done.” The tough times are hitting the shop as well. “The tax raise is hitting us hard,” Meyers said. Rent for the building is upwards of $2,000 per month, a staffer said, which cuts into the proceeds considerably.
The store can only open when they have enough volunteers to run it. Currently, the thrift store is open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from roughly noon to 4:30 p.m. Markey said the store could do more business and expand the hours if there were more volunteers to keep it running.
Clothing homeless, fire victims ,The shop is able to help the Hoboken Homeless Shelter at 300 Bloomfield St., because the shelter gives clothing vouchers to guests who can use them at the store. Victims of fires and other tragedies in town also get vouchers. “It great to see the people come in and find something, then leave with a smile on their face.” said Lucille Casulli“We really helped a lot of needy people in town,” Casulli said. “It great to see the people come in and find something, then leave with a smile on their face. ”Not only do the customers leave with a smile, but so did the woman who donated the Louis Vuitton purse.“My daughter is getting married,” she said. “The bag went through a few summers, and I don’t want to keep it. They can make some money, which is great.”
All donations are welcome, but staff members asked that the bags or loads be kept to a manageable size so that the senior citizens can maneuver them.