With a spruced-up look that makes it feel like a country boutique, the Katonah Thrift Shop welcomes shoppers seeking unique finds—and their purchases are supporting many worthy organizations in the community.
Located on the lower level of the Katonah Memorial House, the shop sustains the work of the Women’s Civic Club (originally the Katonah Suffrage Club, formed in 1913), a local organization of about 130 members. The club’s original purpose was “aiding the women of the United States to obtain their full rights of citizenship.” To help further their philanthropic goals, by creating a lasting source of income, the thrift shop was opened in 1945. In 1984, it moved to its current location at 71 Bedford Road.
The shop is filled with donated artwork, jewelry, antiques, clothing, household items and more.
Co-manager of the thrift shop, Ursula Martin, said funds raised from the sale of items are given to a long list of charitable and educational causes including local schools, ambulance corps, libraries, museums, Girl Scouts and others. Some of the income is also used to maintain the Katonah Memorial House, which was dedicated to the men and women of Katonah who served in World War I and is owned by the club.
“We give out scholarships to Fox Lane, JFK and Katonah-Lewisboro schools,” Martin said, and she acknowledged the generous donors from the area who contribute a huge variety of items to the store.
“People come in and can find some wonderful things; we get marvelous donations and we are so lucky to have the donors that we do—people are finding treasures from Tiffany’s to bric-a-brac,” she said.
More than just generating money for charitable purposes, the shop is where members of the Women’s Civic Club donate hours of their time to volunteer and lovingly run the business.
“What is special are our volunteers,” said co-manager Bobbi Stanton. “We have volunteers who range from their 40s to age 101—in fact we have two members, one is almost 100 and the other is turning 101, who both still work in the shop—it is wonderful and they are very dedicated.”
In all, there are 70 active volunteers who work in shifts of five per day, and each year a group of them put together a special event to showcase the merchandise. “We have a fashion show in January; the members take clothes off the floor and model them in a fashion show,” Stanton said.
As for donations, the managers said that although the store no longer takes items on consignment, it does accept a large variety of goods, and members carefully choose what to put out for sale.
“We put out only things that are clean, that are in good condition—not chipped,” Martin said. “We get lots of clothing donations. We go through each item and if we don’t feel we want to put it out on the floor, we pass it on to Goodwill or we just arrange for a pickup from Big Brother/Big Sisters,” Stanton added. Over the years, they have received designer handbags, clothing and high-end shoes, which, they say, attract regular customers who search the store to score a great bargain or stumble upon a surprise discovery.
“We are still waiting for the Van Gogh or a diamond in somebody’s pocket. It is really fun to work here and see what comes in,” Stanton said.
The Katonah Thrift Shop is open each weekday, except Thursdays, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturdays, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at 71 Bedford Road behind the Katonah Memorial House.