More than charming: Encore Thrift Shop in Morristown fills many niches

The Encore Thrift Shop. Photo courtesy of St. Peter's Episcopal Church
The Encore Thrift Shop. Photo courtesy of St. Peter's Episcopal Church
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Who doesn’t like a bargain? The Encore Thrift Shop at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown specializes in them.

You can find new and gently used clothing for women, men and children, including  some designer brands, at prices from $4-$15. There are women’s shoes and accessories, books, pictures, small furniture, household décor — you never know what treasures are waiting on any given day.

Items are donated by members of the Morristown community. Proceeds go to local charities. Encore has raised more than $30,000 so far.

A shopper browses at the Encore Thrift Shop in Morristown. Photo by Mary Amalfitano.
A shopper browses at the Encore Thrift Shop in Morristown. Photo by Mary Amalfitano for MorristownGreen.com.

“It’s wonderful,” said St. Peter’s Rector Janet Broderick. “The thing about it that’s so terrific is, we’ve become a safe, supporting, nourishing environment for families. This allows them to get clothes and supplies and beautiful shoes for incredibly reasonable prices.”

Volunteers benefit, too.

“So many people have a secret passion to be a shop girl or shop man. A lot of us like the idea of helping people get what they want. Whether you have nothing or not, you’re treated like you’re at Nordstrom’s,” Broderick said.

A recent visit to Encore, on the first floor of a Victorian home owned by St. Peter’s at 80 Maple Ave., found Carmela Palmeri and Jean Galbaith eager to help. They are among about a dozen volunteers, ranging from students to seniors, who staff the operation.

Encore’s customers represent the diversity of Morristown, from the disadvantaged, to office workers, students, families, and those seeking clothing for job interviews.

First-time shopper Larson Nowydwor stopped by because he was “just curious. I saw the Thrift Shop sign and came in…I think the merchandise is pretty good, with a nice display. I also like going to thrift stores associated with churches.”

Maria Helena has worshiped at St. Peters with her family. She called the shop a dream come true.

“It is not about making profit, it is about servicing the community,” Helena said. “I was welcomed from the beginning, and I can afford merchandise that I may not be able to afford in another store. It increases my self-esteem and I say to myself, look I can have this.”

A regular customer, Maureen Murphy, visits Encore for vacation- and summer clothes.

“I’ve found clothes here for my husband and sons and even books for myself. I also like the platters and have a very eclectic taste and can put a table together the way I like. ”

Another shopper, Cecile, was finding summer clothes for her grandkids.

Perusing the menswear at the Encore Thrift Shop in Morristown. Photo by Mary Amalfitano for MorristownGreen.com
Perusing the menswear at the Encore Thrift Shop in Morristown. Photo by Mary Amalfitano for MorristownGreen.com

The Encore Thrift Shop opened in the spring of 2017 at 70 Maple Ave., in the church annex, a space now occupied by a fitness center.

That temporary location had room to sell new and gently used furniture, clothing, jewelry, books and household items.

In the fall of 2017, the store moved to the Guild Room in St. Peter’s Parish Hall where, during the Christmas season, customers were welcomed with carols and a fire in the grand fireplace.

It began a Yuletide tradition for the season of giving. On a special afternoon, children from the church’s Afterschool on South program are invited to pick out gifts for their family,  making for a brighter holiday season for those in need.

Donations of new and gently used clothing and household items can be brought to the shop, or left in a bin on the left side of the building. Charities that benefit from the proceeds include St. Peter’s and its Outreach Ministries, Scouts & AA Groups, the Morristown High School Marching Band clothing drive, Fresh Market Guests in Need, the Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Afterschool on South, and local families in need.

St. Peter’s purchased the house at 80 Maple in 1994 for staff housing; the choirmaster still lives upstairs.

Encore’s space feels more like a boutique than a thrift store. Each category of merchandise has its own room: Women’s, men’s, children’s and home décor.

The shop is run by volunteer Lynn Livingston who, with the Rev. Stephanie Wethered, brought the idea to St. Peter’s in Morristown after worshiping at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Essex Fells and helping at its OpShop.

Livingston’s shopkeeper training began as a teen, working as a clerk at the former Jodo Gift Shop at 20 Park Place in Morristown.

Jodo’s owners, the Lowenstein family, employed Livingston through her high school and college years, teaching her all aspects of the business.

Those lessons are reflected today on Maple Avenue–truly an Encore performance.

Encore Thrift Store hours are Wednesdays from noon to 5 pm, Fridays from noon to 4 pm, and Sundays from 11 am – 1 pm. Additional shopping hours are planned for this summer.

Kevin Coughlin contributed to this report.

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