Shopping Greenwich with Heart

above: The Greenwich Women’s Exchange offers plenty of festive items to help get you in the holiday spirit.
Photographs by Garvin Burke

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for shopping, and even more so when you can support a great cause in the process. Our town is home to some terrific volunteer-run thrift shops and nonprofit boutiques where you can score a great deal while helping people in need. These are some of our favorites for feel-good treasure hunting.

 

With its unique and sweet offerings, the Women’s Exchange makes supporting local artisans easy and fun.

GREENWICH WOMEN’S EXCHANGE
28 Sherwood Place
Greenwich, 203-869-0229

If you’re searching for a one-of-a-kind gift, this shop’s selection of hand-knit baby and children’s sweaters, smocked dresses, toys, puzzles, pottery, women’s clothing and accessories is truly special, representing more than 200 different artisans. The Exchange has been operating inside a historic house in downtown Greenwich for more than 100 years. Part of the Federation of Women’s Exchanges, it supports the art of hand-crafted items, with proceeds going directly to artisans locally, around the United States and in developing countries. “It’s about women helping women,” says Roni Schmitz, president.

right: Deck the halls with festive finds.

Behind the shop, there’s a garden and terrace with wrought-iron furniture for sale and a little storybook cottage that houses art and antiques including hand-painted Portuguese pottery, colorful Fiesta ware, Christmas items such as fine china and décor, vintage embroidered linens and hand towels. One artisan knits personalized Christmas stockings, which are a tradition for some families, Roni says. People who had them as children now buy them for their grandkids. Everything is reasonably priced. And knowing that each item is one-of-a-kind makes gift giving even more personal. Says Jennifer Chapman, vice president and treasurer, of the artisans and their work: “It takes time. They had to want to make these pieces. There’s love in there.”

 

left: Stores may come and go, but The Rummage Room is an OG staple. right: A perfect stop for sweater weather

THE RUMMAGE ROOM
191 Sound Beach Avenue,
Old Greenwich, 203-637-1875

Celebrating its fifty-eighth anniversary, this second-hand shop sponsored by the Women’s Fellowship of the First Congregational Church stocks high-quality used clothing, home décor, baby gear and gifts, as well as items that are new in their packaging (we spotted kids’ toys and games that had never been opened). For the holidays, the Rummage Room will carry ornaments and seasonal items. Thanks to what store manage Leanne Meyer calls a group of “lovely donors,” there are designer finds to be had, including Chanel, Gucci and Tiffany. Dealers flock to the shop when new merchandise is put out at the start of the season each September. The prices are amazing (for instance: a like-new Vince cashmere sweater for $30). Twenty-four volunteers help to run the store, and the inventory is constantly being refreshed by the church community; anyone is welcome to donate. The best part about shopping The Rummage Room is that all the proceeds go to local, national and international charities. Among the long list of local causes that Rummage Room has contributed to:  Abilis, Neighbor to Neighbor, Boys and Girls Clubs, Children’s Learning Center, Inspirica, Kids in Crisis, TAG and the YWCA. Since it first opened, The Rummage Room has donated more than $4 million to charities.

 

right: You never know what you’ll find in the cases, shelves and racks.

GREENWICH HOSPITAL AUXILIARY THRIFT SHOP
199 Hamilton Avenue
Greenwich, 203-863-3933

A team of volunteers and five staff employees keep this shop filled with lovely, gently used items. Hermès and Ferragamo bags, Armani and Brioni dresses are among the finds spotted in the dedicated designer section. There’s also a large selection of regular clothing and shoes. Among the accessories and jewelry are beautiful pieces such as diamond-studded watches. Check the housewares case for luxe entertaining items: porcelain china, crystal and sterling silver. Everyday dishes, glassware and kitchen essentials are stocked as well and all kinds of furniture, antiques, light fixtures and home decor. “We get some fabulous art here,” says Annie Steyer, manager. “You never know what’s coming in that back door.”

To prep for the holidays, the shop closes for one day while the staff sets up a “Christmas wonderland,” open beginning the week before Thanksgiving. There are artificial trees, wreaths, Christmas village figurines, décor, ornaments stockings and more available for purchase. If you’re looking to donate instead of shop, you can email photos of furniture pieces and schedule a pickup. All proceeds go to patient-care services at the hospital.

If the shoe fits … The Greenwich Hospital Auxillary Thrift Shop has plenty of fashion finds, as well as home décor pieces.

WHAT’S IN STORE AT OUR LOCAL NONPROFITS
Gifts, clothes, books, beauty products—they’ve got it all

ABILIS GARDEN AND GIFTS
Soaps, lotions, bath products, candles, hand-made jewelry, fresh flowers
50 Glenville Street, 203-531-4438

ACT II POP-UP SHOP/SECOND CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
Secondhand clothing pop-up
(check 2cc.org for dates)
139 E. Putnam Avenue, 203-869-9311

BRUCE MUSEUM GIFT SHOP
The shop is set to reopen in early 2023. Art books and cards, gifts, jewelry accessories, stationery, educational toys
1 Museum Drive, 203-869-0376

DOGWOOD BOOKS AND GIFTS AT CHRIST CHURCH
Books, gifts and seasonal items; garden patio and a coffee bar
254 E. Putnam Avenue; 203-869-9030

GREENWICH BOTANICAL CENTER
Gifts, jewelry, candles, potted amaryllis and paperwhites, home décor
130 Bible Street Cos Cob, 203-869-9242

GREENWICH HISTORICAL SOCIETY GIFT SHOP
Art books and gifts, jewelry, bath and beauty items, home and garden gifts, Greenwich items (cards, tea towels, cribbage, cutting board, Monopoly set, etc.), kids’ presents
47 Strickland Road, Cos Cob; 203-869-6899

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