A shop with a conscience

The brand-name clothes are pressed, washed and mended. The books are shelved, and the displays are organized.

The American Cancer Society Discovery Shop is officially ready for business in its new location in Silverdale.

The non-profit shop, which has operated for 20 years in Kitsap County, formerly was located in East Bremerton. Before that it was on Callow Avenue.

“There was a lack of business in Sheridan Village. There were times we would have eight or 10 volunteers and no customers. We are in business to raise money for the American Cancer Society for research and patient services,” said Mary Jane Strycharski, chair of the shop’s governing board.

Starting in mid-February, the store’s 42 volunteers began the Herculean task of moving donated housewares, books and clothing to the new location at 10600 Silverdale Way, near Don Pablo’s restaurant.

The shop opened March 1, but its grand opening celebration is slated for March 8, according to Fran Dillan, display chair for the shop.

Volunteers, many of whom have logged 6,000-9,000 hours over the years, joked with one another as they worked to set up the store one recent afternoon.

“It’s a close group. We have volunteers who have been here from the very beginning,” said 17-year volunteer Mary Helen Torpey.

Many workers suffered from cancer themselves, or lost loved ones to the disease.

“My husband has esophagus cancer, and now he is deceased. This is a payback because he had such excellent care,” said Algie Hansen, an 11-year volunteer. “Someday soon I hope they’ll have a cure.”

The store, one of nine in Washington, is also a resource for people who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families. Pamphlets explaining American Cancer Society services are stacked near the register, and volunteers can refer customers to a 24-hour hotline.

The initial challenge is to get out the word that the shop has moved, and build a customer base.

“We want to build a community awareness of what the Discovery Shop is about,” said Bill LaVerge, the regional Discovery Shop manager.

The store is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Want to help?

The American Cancer Society Discovery Shop is seeking donations of gently-used clothing, housewares and books. The items will be sold at the shop, with proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society for research, education and patient services.

The store also needs volunteers who can commit at least four hours a week to sort donations, sell merchandise or price items. For more information, call 613-4139.

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