Just about any self-respecting bohemian has spent their share of time browsing the racks of used clothing at their local thrift shop for just the right overcoat, skirt or blazer. Unfortunately, ever since St. Ann’s Episcopal Church closed its own thrift store at the end of 2016, Bridgehampton residents have been forced to go farther afield to search for treasure in other people’s cast-offs.
That is changing, though, now that Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church is opening The Exchange, its own thrift shop, in a portion of the first floor of the parish’s rectory, next month.
On Tuesday, three parishioners, Gay Lynch, Fran Conigliaro and Eileen Zito, were joined by Hillary Hulten, a member of St. Ann’s, to talk about plans for the operation.
“It was open for five weeks before Christmas. You could call that the soft opening,” quipped Ms. Lynch, who said the shop would officially open on April 5 and be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. “It’s going to be a learning curve.”
Ms. Lynch said volunteers originally expected the shop would draw patrons from among the parish’s working-class members, especially its Latino population. When they didn’t show up after Sunday Mass, that proved to be a lesson in the importance of not making assumptions about other cultures, she said. Instead, the shop, which is gearing up to sell men’s and women’s clothing, dishes, decorative objects, jewelry, art and a limited amount of furniture, seemed to be drawing most of its clientele from weekenders and visitors from New York City.
It doesn’t matter where customers come from, Ms. Lynch said, just as long as they spend money because the shop’s proceeds will be directed to the parish’s outreach programs to help fund things like Bridgehampton’s food pantry, the Retreat domestic abuse shelter, coat drives and Christmas gifts for needy community members.
For now, volunteers are sorting through a steady stream of donations that have been showing up. “Some of these things have never been worn — or worn only once,” said Ms. Conigliaro as she looked over a rack of women’s clothing. Other donations include dishes, ceramics, and decorative pieces.
The Reverend Peter Devaraj, the pastor of both Queen of the Most Holy Rosary and St. Andrew parish in Sag Harbor, gave his blessing to use three rooms of the rectory for the thrift shop, Ms. Lynch said. Ms. Hulten, a long-time volunteer at St. Ann’s, said that church had to shut its successful shop to provide a place to live for its rector, the Reverend Timothy Lewis.
As a veteran in the thrift shop business, she had plenty of advice for the QMHR volunteers: Control the intake of donations; otherwise people will start to drop off the leftovers from last weekend’s yard sale; steer clear of electronics and appliances, and keep the stock moving out the door with frequent markdowns and purging sessions unless you want to be overwhelmed with junk.
Ms. Conigliaro was already plotting ways she was going to sift through donations. “We’ll sell t-shirts for maybe $2 and I’m going to have a dollar rack on the front porch,” she said.