Tis the Season of giving, the Season of joy.
Yes, many consider the holidays their Season of joyous giving. But others don’t wait for …the Season.
While walking Bailey one day I saw a fantastic leather couch at the curb. Wow! Someone in one of these hi-rises nearby was tossing this when someone else could really use it. What a shame.
Sometimes people just can’t be bothered with passing these good things on to others who can really use them. That bothered me. So I stopped into our local Long Beach thrift shop, New Like New Thrift Shop 515 Long Beach Blvd. 516-422-0640…to inquire within.
I spoke with a lovely lady, Eli Rosner, who along with her husband Jeff are the proprietors of New Like New. Jeff’s lived in Long Beach for 50 years and served as a lifeguard seven of those years. His day job is a health insurance broker, he was busy at that job as Eli and I spoke.
The Rosners have been operating the shop for over two years. I asked Eli why she runs the shop and she said, “One, I had to create a job… (two) my kids just started school full time (private school) and I needed help to pay for that. And the third thing is I wanted to do something that would help the community.”
I’ve observed that often life unfolds before us like pieces of a puzzle scattered here and there. Some of us are more able than others to not only see how one part fits into another but can work deftly to bring the pieces together. Sometimes the endeavor goes so smoothly it’s as if an invisible hand of synchronicity is there to guide them.
Eli said, “When we first opened the store people were calling us and asking us to do “clean outs”. She said people would be moving or relatives passed away and a residence had to be emptied of contents. When Eli saw how good the items were she asked, “Can you hold it for a day?” And they said yes.
In that moment, and with that answer, Eli saw the means of efficiently bringing one piece of puzzle to another. Eli thought, “People just have to find the means of picking it up.” So she put the items on Facebook and connected givers of good things with those who could have them, for free. Her profit was…joy.
Now Eli and Jeff do clean outs on a regular basis giving the large items away and taking the smaller items to their thrift shop for sale at very nominal cost. The funds derived from these shop sales sustain her income.
As Eli spoke I could see that she has developed a smooth, efficient operation. I could also see the passion she had for her work. She was enJOYing herself.
Eli networks with people through her smart phone and Facebook. When someone calls with an offer, they email or text a photo of the it and she posts it free on a first-come-first-served basis. The key is, it must be picked up in 24 hours, at most 48 hours, to accommodate the donor.
Eli showed me examples of the offerings and the responses she’s gotten. Most offers are local, sometimes not. One post, a dining room table, along with a buffet stated:Will need two men and a truck. She got ten responses. The first, from Baldwin, was told to “pick it up at 4:00 pm tomorrow in Great Neck.”
When you think of people getting new furniture for the holidays and needing to part with their current items pretty fast, her community service fills the bill perfectly. It’s a win win.
Eli said that she’s very careful about what to accept and what to reject. She spoke of how some people are emotional about their possessions and think they still have value when in fact they do not, the item might have a stain or a tear. Someone has to tell them. She tells them it’s best to be discarded. Depending on manpower availability she sometimes helps them move it to the curb.
Most of the time value is not a problem, the items offered are in very good condition.
Due to hurricane Sandy many people are having their houses elevated and they want to dispose of their appliances and buy new, these appliances are available. Eli even has contacts for appliances that no longer work, scrap dealers who will pick up those items. The metal will be recycled instead of filling a landfill.
The Rosners have found things of value in these clean outs. They’ve come upon a safety deposit key, a tool box loaded with neatly stacked rows of quarters, a box with hundreds of dollars, all returned to the owners or next of kin.
“New Like New Thrift Shop” is small and rather crammed with stuff, they are looking for a bigger property. They are also trying to obtain non-profit status. But “New Like New” is the only thrift store in Long Beach.
Eli says she affiliates with local churches, the MLK center, and other help organization, who sometime ask if certain items are available. She also posts “curb alerts”, where she sees something in the street, ( I.E. the leather couch ) posts it on Facebook telling people where it is. New Like New Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newlikenewthrift/?fref=ts
She said that sometimes people want to bring a big item to her shop, but she tells them to just leave it at their curb and she will post it. When they come home, it’s gone. She’s had people come to her shop with a large item on a truck, she couldn’t take it but asked a customer. They said yes and it was delivered right to their home.
She also holds coat drives, shoe drives, general clothing drives. Sometimes clothes are picked up and sent to other countries, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, big puzzle connections…yawning to be filled. Some coats are sold at the shop but most of the time they all get donated. Some volunteers pick up items for V.A., right now there is a suit drive.
In the shoe drive she said, “It doesn’t matter the condition because the place we give them to shows kids how to repair them…it teaches them a trade.” And yet more pieces of the puzzle come together, eager hands, willing teachers.
As I chatted with Eli, a donor, Mary, came in to drop off several bags of clothes her children had outgrown. There was a big smile on her face as she set the loaded bags down. Good clothes that served her children well will serve another mom’s kids.
Eli is looking “for more organizations to give to because there isn’t enough of them to handle the input.” It’s the pick-ups that are the big need. She needs more volunteers to pick up and deliver.
Eli learned business through her parents who owned a restaurant and a grocery store. She laughed, “I was like underneath the counter growing up.” Her mom helps out with the current thrift business, her kids come in after school to learn as well.
She said, “The best thing is meeting new people every day…it’s been an amazing journey.” She said it’s a great thing for her husband, Jeff too because he’s meeting people he hasn’t seen since kindergarten.
Regarding the big items she gives away, Eli says that people are always telling her, “You know how much money you could make? They’ve said, ‘You can store it in my house and we can make a profit’ but…I say I can’t do that because it’s not integrity.” She says she just likes to give it away.
Eli said she felt some anxiety a time or two when confronted with a huge amount of clean out items at once. A need to empty a residence and place the items in a timely manner. But with hard work by her and her family, the task was accomplished.
Eli finished with, “The beauty of giving is that it gives you so much joy, it’s just an unloading, a venting, I don’t know how to express it.” She paused. And as she did I reflected on her unusual words, “unloading, venting”. Maybe she was expressing the relief of successfully joining the puzzle parts that brought her “so much joy.” Finally she said, “It’s …just…great.”
See my alternate blog: https://wherethesundontshine.net