Mendham’s MUM’s Thrift Shoppe:  A Win-Win for a Local Church and the Community

by Elsie Walker

Its name is MUM’s Thrift Shoppe, but it doesn’t sell flowers.  MUM stands for the Mendham United Methodist [Church]and its shoppe sells a wide variety of items. Shoppe volunteer Elaine Warren, of Chester, sees the shoppe as a “win/win” for the church and the community.  “Not only do the proceeds benefit the church [running of the church, as well as enabling it to do mission and outreach work in the community], but having a wide variety of items for sale benefits those who shop, enabling them to purchase very nice merchandise for a fraction of what they would otherwise pay.”  The shoppe is located in the church building at 10 East Main Street in Mendham and is open on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The shoppe (the old fashion spelling of the word is used) was started in 2014.  “[It] was the dream child/vision of one of our church ladies, Joan Palmieri.  Joan and her sister-in-law, Terry Provenza, are the two people who have really worked so hard to get the shoppe started and to keep it going.  Along with one other person, Ethel Ann Mosher, they are the heart and soul of the shoppe,” said Warren.  Warren herself has been volunteering there since it began, taking on various roles: salesperson, merchandise pricer and arranger.

The shoppe has clothing, small appliances, home goods, holiday decorations, and more. “We have merchandise for other holidays, but we do have a pretty large selection of Christmas items,” noted Warren.  Items are donated by individuals.  Warren noted that there are people who come in fairly regularly to drop things off, or items are left on the church porch.  While many are donated in good used condition, Warren noted that, “we do sometimes receive upscale items, as well as items that are brand new, with tags still on.”

The shoppe doesn’t have a list of what it will or won’t take for donations.  Warren noted the shoppe will take most items as long as they’re in good condition and can be used.  They prefer not to be given items that are broken or torn, or that are missing pieces.  For things like appliances, the shoppe asks that they be in working order.

Items donated don’t go to waste.  If the shoppe finds it can’t sell an item, it does find it a “home”.  “Some items, such as clothing and shoes, go into the donation shed at the back of the church that is sponsored by Turnkey Enterprises.  The items they collect are used in a variety of ways to benefit people who are in need, both in this country and overseas.  For other items, we try to find an agency or someone who may be able to use them,” explained Warren.

When asked what she enjoys most about being a volunteer at the shoppe, Warren said, “I enjoy meeting the people who come through the shoppe, whether they’re first time shoppers or repeat customers.  It’s fun to talk with them and let them learn a little more about who we are.”

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