A local thrift store is expanding into the art world to offer residents quality art for an affordable price with a grand opening celebration this weekend.
The 1844 Shoppe in Westminster started about two years ago as a yard sale called Spring Marketplace to help raise money to help the Church of the Ascension after some damage it sustained after a storm. The shop is managed by Donna Bair, Sandy White and Cheryl Vescara.
“We started by saying ‘well, we can do a little yard sale in the spring to get the money to pay off the loan,” White said. “It was so successful that after a year of trying to do that we raised a substantial amount of money to help pay off the loan - it’s kind of continued from there.”
The name of the shop came from the year that the church was built, 1844.
The items in the shop range from jewelry to fine china. All the items in the shop are all donated by members of the community, including the art in the gallery.
“Everything we get is donated to us by the church parishioners and as we’ve become more established, the community is very supportive,” White said. “People are not only downsizing but they’re moving and relocating. They’re donating what they have that they like but are ready for something new. We have almost more donations that we have space to support.”
The donations in art have recently spiked, which is what brought on the idea of the gallery.
“Within the last six months, we’ve basically been getting a lot more art, different art pictures - just a lot of art,” White said. “So, what we’ve done is, I said ‘we need to establish that we have a little art gallery here, we oughta do something.’ We acquired some more space and we got some fixtures that we can hang the art, we got a little shop set up. It’s not a huge square footage but we’ve been able to do a lot with the square footage we have.”
The shop has sold art before but never at this multitude.
“We have [sold art] over time but we haven’t had the amount that we have right now and the variety,” said Bair, one of the managers.
Now, the money doesn’t only go to church repairs but also church programs.
“We give all the money to the church to help support our different programs,” White said. “We do a huge pre-summer program for children all summer long.”
The shop isn’t your everyday thrift shop; it has the thrift shop price but higher quality merchandise, White said.
“We are not a nearly junk store,” she said. “We are a nearly new store. So, we don’t take things that the next stage is the trash, or the next stage is a backyard sale. It’s more of a high-end thrift store.”
The shop is completely volunteer staffed; they currently have 20 volunteers on staff.
“It makes everybody feel good because everybody’s been able to do something to support the community,” said White.
Volunteer Kevin Wagman, who doesn’t belong to the church but still helps, also understands the importance of the shop for the community and for the church.
“It always helps out your church’s outreach for things,” he said. “It also creates a way to communicate with the community and if you’re positive, the community is positive back. We offer an opportunity for people downsizing, their treasures are then shared with others and that works; a good deal is a good deal for both.”
The shop at 23 N. Court St. in Westminster is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations are always accepted but contact the shop at 410-848-3251 to make arrangements.