WILTON, Conn. — The Turnover Shop, which has been kept running for 75 years entirely due to volunteers, is not your average thrift shop.
The consignment/donation shop offers a large selection of new and gently used clothing as well as household merchandise, books, shoes, linens and craft items.
"It’s a terrific place for things like prom dresses, tuxedos, Halloween costumes and other items for the holidays," said Wilton resident Sharon Sobel, president of the nonprofit Turnover Shop.
Those sales generate proceeds of nearly six figures, for donations to two main organizations in Wilton: Visiting Nurse and Hospice and the Parent-Teacher Association.
"This year, the shop donated almost $100,000. We have given these two organizations over $1 million through the years," she said of the shop's success.
Aside from these two beneficiaries, the Turnover Shop has also given to Meals on Wheels, Relay for Life and Stay at Home in Wilton — an agency that helps make it possible for people who are retired to remain in their own homes.
Ten years ago, the shop doubled in size.
“We have 137 volunteers who take shifts, working on a variety of jobs," said Sobel, who has been a volunteer for 31 years. She is also an English professor at Norwalk Community College as well as a published romance writer.
The Turnover Shop often gets items that are rich in history and have been passed down for generations.
"Every once in a while, something unexpected will inadvertently make its way into the store.
“Some years ago, we found an engagement ring that we were pretty sure wasn't intended to be donated. It was in the pocket of a child's snowsuit," she said.
Eventually, someone called and knew the date that was engraved on the inside of the ring -- so they were able to claim it.
There was also a freeze-dried cat that someone brought in. "Somebody bought it," she said.
Sobel feels the shop has thrived for so long because of its sense of community. "Customers and volunteers have become friends -- they have gone off on trips together, have been invited to each other's weddings and more.
"It’s not a school community, it’s not a religious community and it’s not based on wealth. Those who come in represent a full diversity of people," she said.
She said that everyone who comes into the store "has an appreciation that all the money the shop makes is put back into the community."