EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 10, 2013

A true bargain basement

Hollyhock Thrift Shop funds many library programs

By Alex Lippa

---- — HAMPSTEAD — The prices just can’t be beat at the Hollyhock Thrift Shop. At 10 cents for a men’s tie and only $2 for shirts, it’s hard to get a better deal on clothing.

“I try to get all my clothes here,” said Fran Pruett of Hampstead. “I don’t go anywhere else.”

The shop is located in the basement of Hampstead Public Library and is run by Elaine David and her team of volunteers. All proceeds from the shop go directly to The Friends of the Hampstead Public Library, an organization which helps fund the library.

“It’s a good way to raise money,” said David, 87. “People are always here. I never sit here by myself.”

The shop has raised $49,787 since 2007. The library uses the money generated from the thrift shop to fund many of popular programs and features.

“We cherish what they’ve done,” library director Deb Hiett said. “Their work has helped to implement new collections we have in the library.”

Thrift shop sales have funded activities for the summer reading program, a movie projection system and e-readers among, other things.

David sits at a table by the front door and greets customers. She uses pen and paper to add up customers’ purchases.

“We don’t need technology here,” David said. “It’s all done in the head.”

She said she has seen a gradual increase in customers and revenue each year, and she points to the prices as a big reason for that.

“People come from all over,” she said. “We haven’t increased the prices of anything since the day we’ve opened.”

That’s a big attraction for regular shoppers and those visiting the shop for the first time, including Roxanne Abbott of Hampstead.

“I needed to buy my daughter some summer clothes,” she said. “I had heard about it, but never been. I didn’t know that all the money goes right to the library.”

Virginia Morris of Sandown said she comes to the shop once a month.

“Most of all, it’s the prices,” she said. “But they have such a great variety as well.”

The shop accepts clothing for people of all ages during library hours. Jewelry and accessories are accepted, too.

Linda Skidmore, a library Friend, said the thrift shop is the group’s biggest source of money — and it wouldn’t be possible without David.

“This was her dream,” Skidmore said. “She’s got an amazing passion for what she does.”

But even passion has its limits; David said she only plans to run the shop for three more years.

“Once I hit 90, it’s all up in the air,” she said with a smile.

The shop is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. All donations of clothing can be dropped off at the shop when it’s open or at the front desk of the library.