The Brandywine Health Foundation and the Brandywine Consignment Shop will officially close their consignment store at the end of this month. Affectionately known as The Little Yellow House, the shop on West Uwchlan Avenue in Downingtown has been temporarily closed since March 13 and will close its doors permanently on Oct. 31.
“When we first closed the shop in March due to statewide stay-at-home orders, we were optimistic that the change would be temporary,” said Nancy Miller, board chair of the Brandywine Consignment Shop. “But now, as the spread of COVID-19 continues, the Brandywine Health Foundation Board of Directors, along with the Brandywine Consignment Shop Board of Directors, have mutually concluded that to prioritize the safety and welfare of our volunteers and the community at large, it is necessary to permanently close our beloved consignment shop.”
“For months, we resisted taking the same steps deemed necessary by many similar shops around the country,” said Vanessa Briggs, president and CEO of the Brandywine Health Foundation. “But with recent infection spikes in the community and in the state, we felt we had no choice but to make the tough decision to cease operation permanently.”
Successful operation of the Consignment Shop relied heavily on volunteers to both run the store and serve customers. These volunteers were generally older members of the community and among the same population most vulnerable and most likely to be impacted negatively by COVID-19. Despite adherence to health and safety protocols, the very nature of the thrift business, along with the configuration of the store and obvious space limitations, would make it impossible for social distancing. A survey of staff and volunteers made clear that most were not comfortable returning to the shop and putting their health at risk.
“The safety of our community far exceeds any concerns about profitability,” said Rick Clark, board chair of the Brandywine Health Foundation. “As a health organization, it would be unthinkable for us not to prioritize the concerns of the shop’s staff, volunteers, and consigners.”
The Brandywine Consignment Shop opened for business on March 3, 1992, thanks to the vision and hard work of founders Caroline Butz, Jane Greenleaf, Joan Hedberg, and Stella Ziegler. Initially staffed only with five volunteers and a manager, the shop grew over the past 28 years to eight staff members and more than 60 volunteers. The Chester County community has consistently demonstrated its generosity over the years, which contributed to the tremendous success of the shop. Since its opening, sales at the Little Yellow House have resulted in more than $1 million in philanthropic funds donated to support many community programs and Brandywine Health Foundation initiatives.
“Every person who has walked through our doors, to either work or volunteer, has left an indelible mark on our legacy,” said Miller. “While we may not be together at the shop, we will continue to be connected by our unwavering dedication to our mission and by the lifelong friendships we have forged.”
Even as it closes its doors, the Little Yellow Shop continues to serve the needs of the community. The Brandywine Health Foundation team, in conjunction with the Consignment Shop volunteer board, is coordinating efforts to donate the remaining inventory of clothing and household items to local nonprofits to support those most impacted by the pandemic.
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