On a rainy Friday afternoon, volunteers in in Greenport were busy helping customers with purchases and moving merchandise.
In the 1960s, auxiliary started a thrift store in a building on hospital grounds. In 1973, the Opportunity Shop moved off hospital grounds into a bigger space on Front Street in Greenport and eventually moved to a larger space on Main Street.
Run by the hospital's famous pink ladies and other volunteers, those manning the Opportunity Shop say they never know what to expect on a given day, according to Mary Ann Horan. Sometimes a family will bring goods from an estate from a family member who has passed away. Because so much of the merchandise is from estates, thrifty shoppers may find Waterford crystal, clothing from Talbot's and Lands End, and Limoge porcelin.
"It's like running a business without knowing or having the ability to choose your inventory," Horan said.
Horan said on any given day they can take in a kitchen sink to leather furniture to a wedding gown. She said items like sinks and good furniture tend to go quickly once the word spreads that they have it.
Since the Arcade closed, Horan said that the Opportunity Shop is the department store in Greenport. Horan said people come in to buy kitchen utensils and last minute gifts for holidays or birthdays. They even have wrapping paper and cards in stock.
Opportunity Shop Coordinator Leslie Sinnott says the volunteers have a system in place for marking the merchandise and making seasonal shifts in the large volumes of donations. Sinnott says there is a constant turnover in merchandise and that they have a pick up from St. Vincent de Paul once a week for any over flow merchandise they might have. They also hold special sales throughout the year.
Horan said clothing is popular and that people can come in to renew their wardrobe each season with the amount of merchandise they have. She said a lot of it is high end clothing that tends to move quickly and many tourists come in during the summer to pick up things they may forgotten for their trip.
Both Sinnott and Horan said the shop tends to busy in the spring when homeowners are busy with spring cleaning but they also said donations are fairly constant throughout the year. They only accept donations during specified hours during the day and do not accept mattresses or pillows.
The bottom line, say volunteers, is that this thrift shop carries a variety of merchandise at affordable prices.
"This is a good place for people to bring their stuff and a good place for people to find stuff," Horan said.
The Opportunity Shop needs volunteers to help mark and organize the merchandise and assist customers. Please call 631-477-5197 for volunteer information.