Starting Saturday, Chandler Square in Port Jefferson village will be home to a new thrift shop in which donations and sales will benefit The Retreat, an East Hampton-based non-profit organization that helps victims of domestic violence.
It's the second such thrift shop for The Retreat, which provides a 24/7 crisis hotline, counseling, legal advocacy, and a shelter for women and other people who are experiencing such abuse. The 26-year-old organization received more than 3,100 calls to its domestic violence crisis hotline in 2012, a figure up 35 percent since 2011.
"Over the years we've helped thousands of women escape domestic violence situations," executive director Jeffrey Friedman said. "People come to us and we help transform lives. They come to us in a real crisis situation: Oftentimes they’ve been physically emotionally abused really badly, and we are able to help them regain a life of independence and freedom, free from violence."
Located across from Chandler Square's ice cream parlor, the 800-square-foot shop will open Saturday with limited hours during the springtime: Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Boutique manager Jackie Carter said the thrift store will expand its hours during Port Jefferson's busy summer season.
"I'm very excited to be opening the shop. ... This is a hub of tourism during the summer season," she said. "I think we're going to do well. I think people will like our style."
Carter said since the organization's original boutique is located in Bridgehampton, it often receives donations of high-end goods such as designer handbags, shoes, and clothing, along with nice household items, bric-a-brac and furniture. Many of those donations will wind up in the Port Jefferson shop.
It's "a place where you can get real bargains and nice stuff, really high-end stuff," Carter said. "Finding a treasure like that at a thrift store, that's an adrenaline rush."
The strangest item that has ever wound up at The Retreat's Bridgehampton boutique was a collection of multiple high-end toilets that came in 2012 from a large estate that was being razed; Friedman said they sold in a day and a half.
The Retreat opened the second thrift shop initially in East Hampton Village. The Retreat Boutique Too, located at 30 Park Place in the Reutershan parking lot, opened in May 2012, but closed in December, when the space was rented long-term to the Outdoors store, which moved from Amagansett.
"The landlord for that space was extremely generous with us and we are very grateful for all of his support," Friedman said at the time, adding that The Retreat was looking for another space.
Two factors drew The Retreat to pursue a location in Port Jefferson; one factor was the desire to get the organization's name out in an area from which they receive a lot of referrals.
"A lot of people we serve are from the Stony Brook, Setauket, Port Jefferson area," Friedman said. "It’s another way for us to get the word about what we do."
The organization was also seeking a place that would yield a lot of foot traffic.
"The village is such a generous and caring village, in our experiene, and we thought this would be a perfect opportunity for us to come in and let the community get to know us in a different way," Friedman said.
The thrift shop will offset the organization's annual operating budget of about $4 million, which otherwise comes from donations and government funding. Friedman said The Retreat's original boutique drew about 16 percent of its total operating budget.
"It’s crucial that we continue to make this successful," he said.
Both boutiques are regularly in need of clean and gently used clothing, jewelry, shoes, scarves, handbags, and housewares; the organization also accepts furniture. Donations are tax-deductible. The organization is also seeking volunteers – and, of course, customers.
"People often ask us how they can help," Friedman said. "This is an opportunity now where many people are going through spring cleaning and getting rid of a lot of things. We would encourage people to come down and bring their items to our thrift shop, and donate their gently used items for a good cause."
Do you feel you are a victim of domestic violence? Visit The Retreat's website for a list of questions that may help you determine whether you are a victim. The organization's 24/7 crisis hotline can be reached at 631-329-2200.