Resale shop to reopen as North Shore Exchange
A new charity thrift store will soon replace the Glen Cote Resale Shop at 372 Hazel Ave. | Irv Leavitt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:08PM
GLENCOE — As contractors labor at the site of the old Glen Cote resale store, it’s not just the building at 372 Hazel Ave. that’s getting a gut and rebuild job.
It’s also happening to a way of doing business.
The old store was as set in its ways as the aging membership of the organization that ran it, the Woman’s Library Club of Glencoe. Incredibly, the shop had operated since 1924 without a 501(c)3 IRS charitable status.
In recent years, the shop known for pumping cash into various needy agencies could no longer cover the $26,000 in annual property taxes on the its own store on the edge of uptown Glencoe, club President Roberta Olshansky said.
It was tough to pile up any sales because without tax-exempt status, donations weren’t deductible. The store was filling up with junk.
“It had become a dumping ground,” Olshansky said.
Something had to give, and it has. Members of the club, Family Service of Glencoe and other charitable local people have formed a new charitable corporation to run a new store called the North Shore Exchange.
When it opens March 5, it will look entirely different, President Wendy Serrino said. It starts with the merchandise: Both donated and consigned, women’s clothing reflects the people who once had it in their closets: These are people who can afford the best, labels including Chanel, St. John, Theory, Tahari and Akris.
“We’re upgrading the quality of the merchandise,” Olshansky said. “We’re not going to be selling any 25-cent t-shirts.”
She knows what the merchandise is going to be like. The (847) 835-0026 number in the window and word of mouth have already filled up two basements, a garage and two storage lockers with women’s garments, furniture and household accessories.
Glencoe Architect Scott Javore has donated his services, designing a 2,500 square-foot space that could bring back the feel of 1924.
“I actually wanted to reflect the history of the building,” he said. “We left the brick exterior walls. The tin ceilings were also uncovered, and the transom windows, which had been covered over with plywood, were uncovered, too. It’s pretty nice just leaving the windows exposed, bringing more light inside.”
He also had to design new bathrooms and a second staircase to finally bring the building up to code.
“We had a ladder upstairs that we could throw out the window to escape,” Olshansky said. “That’s how we got by, that’s how we were grandfathered-in.”
In addition to Javore’s largess, the new group got breaks on work and materials from Masonry by Fernando, Hanson Roofing and C & P Remodeling.
“We were going around to all the different contractors, helping them get the best price, some donated materials,” said Bob Compher of C & P. “They have a small budget and a big idea.”
Even so, the corporation has had to borrow $200,000, Olshansky said, a loan backed by she and Serrino personally.
A building appraised at $450,000 doesn’t command the collateral it used to, she said.
In addition to Serrino and OIshansky, much of the heavy lifting for North Shore Exchange was done by Stuart and Lois Scheyer, Javore and attorney Kim Cornell, who helped push through the 501(c)3 status in six weeks. Now, the group is waiting for Cook County to award a property tax exemption.
The feel of the new store is taken from Designing Women Boutique, a charity thrift store the Scheyers knew from snowbird time in Sarasota, Fla. Serrino said. That store raises $100,000 a year, and the Glencoe group is aiming for the same number.
Many of the new organizers are from Family Service of Glencoe, and younger, like Cornell, than their over-70 counterparts on the Library Club.
Family Service, cut out of United Way donations in recent years, is to get a third of eventual donations. The rest will be spread around town and beyond. The group will start taking donation applications in June.
Six of nine members on the new organization’s board are Women’s Club members, and many of that group’s volunteers are expected to return – after a few weeks of training on new computers and retailing methods.
Those training sessions might be a revelation for some of the women, members of a group that has shriveled from a peak of 300 members to about 75, and is peopled by a few ladies with a penchant for being set in their ways.
Twice in recent years, the majority of the group has voted to change its name to Women’s Club of Glencoe, removing the confusion stemming from providing the Glencoe Public Library’s first books, Olshansky said.
But no one uses the new name, she said.
And a recent vote to admit men passed, but no men were admitted, because some members said they’d quit if that happened.