Serendipity Resale Shop profits boost programs for developmentally disabled
BY D.J. WANBERG For Sun-Times Media
Something to smile about: Manager Arlene Klucina of Serendipity Resale Shop in downtown Naperville shows off one of the newest outfits donated to the store. Proceeds from the shop, which is run by some 60 volunteers, benefit Little Friends, an agency that serves people with autism and other disabilities. | Mary Compton~For Sun-Times Media
Address: 12 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville.
Hours: The shop is open from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; from
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.
How you can help: Serendipity is always in need of donations of
household items, clothing,
collectibles, jewelry, books and magazines.
For more information:
Call (630) 357-3610.
Businesses on Jefferson Avenue, have come and gone over the years in Naperville.
But one constant of the downtown area is found at 12 W. Jefferson Ave. At Serendipity Resale Shop, a person can find that right piece of clothing that finishes an ensemble or a book that they’ve wanted to read, but couldn’t find.
And when they take what they’ve picked out to the register, they take satisfaction in knowing they found what they wanted. But they can also take satisfaction in helping others.
The resale shop, a part of Naperville since 1971, helps fund Little Friends. It was originally at 620 E. Ogden Ave. and moved to its current Jefferson Avenue location in 1976.
Founded in 1965, Little Friends, which is based in Naperville, operates three schools along with, vocational training programs and community-based residential services to help children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.
“Our customers are consistent. We have the most loyal customers in the world because we’re under Little Friends,” said Arlene Klucina of Oswego, the shop’s manager.
“That’s a great aspect of it (the sales going to help Little Friends), but I also get a lot of value for my money,” said Sharon Baibus of Warrenville, who has been shopping at Serendipity for over seven years.
The shop, which is open seven days a week, continues to gross approximately $100,000 per year, according to Kim Bus, Little Friends director of Marketing, PR and Community Relations. But Serendipity hasn’t been immune to the economic downturn, and like other area businesses, sales have slowed.
Although the shop’s profits go to help Little Friends and it is run completely by volunteers, it aims to market like a regular business. It has sales and other promotions to draw in customers of all age levels. And Klucina said it’s done to compete with the growth of other resale shops in the area.
One example of its marketing is a senior discount day every Tuesday. Customers ages 62 and older get a 10 percent discount. Klucina said it’s important that Serendipity has merchandise that people want to buy.
“Clothing is the mainstay. It’s what moves the most. The second would be collectibles. The clothing, we have Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer. We have some really wonderful clothing that comes from this community,” she said.
But for all the talk of clothing and sales and operating a shop, Serendipity is different. It exists to help others and it’s run by all volunteers, currently 61 total. And they strongly believe in what they’re doing.
And for many of them, their time volunteering can’t be measured in days or weeks, but years.
Toni Johnson of Naperville is the shop’s collectibles manager and started as a regular customer.
“I was a customer and interested in volunteering. I had younger children. They then started to go to school full-time and I started volunteering here one day a month,” she said.
Carol Devito of Lombard is a cashier for the shop.
“It’s about being able to give back,” she said.
Jean Ownby, of Naperville, has been with Serendipity since it opened in 1971. She had studied occupational therapy at the University of Illinois. She and her husband had started a family and she wanted a way to continue helping others.
“I would say that we have 61 outstanding volunteers. They call me at home and get so excited after a great day (of sales). That enthusiasm is immeasurable,” Klucina said.