ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – The St. Jude Thrift Shop of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help St Agnes parish is holding a 50 per cent off sale on all items in the shop, Manager Irma Penta Fahrer announced this week.

    “Every once in a while we like to offer a sale, not only to entice new shoppers into our boutique, but also to move some items and make room for the new  exciting and unique things that are always being donated and so appreciated,” Fahrer said.

  The thrift shop, located on Ave. D and South Ave., has been open under Fahrer’s management and its new name for nine months, and already the manager said she has had some fascinating experiences.

     “It’s wonderful when people come in and are looking for something specific, like a 48-inch-wide chest, or a teacup to replace one broken in a treasured set,” she agreed. “But it’s also wonderful when someone comes in to browse and finds the prefect thing…especially at a special price.”

     One such incident was when the shop received a donation of several Belleek china pieces, and Fahrer included them in a half-price sale. A woman came in, was amazed at the already low price, and purchased three of the pieces. As she was checking out and paying her $50 for the three pieces, Fahrer told her it was a Half Price Day so her total was really only $25.  “She was delighted, of course, and so was I. She came back the next day with a friend and purchased the rest of the pieces.”

    Has she made any mistakes in pricing items? “Of course, I’m sure I have on occasion,” the manager acknowledged, “but we research things and try to be fair in pricing, so the church can make some money for its programs, but also so they still represent a good deal for the customer.”

    Recalling once incident when “it simply got by us,” Fahrer told of a badly tarnished chain with a heart on it.  She had it priced at $4, and a gentleman came in with a magnifying glass, looking over several pieces of jewelry and  buying the chain. “Turns out,” she laughs, “he told us it was really 14 carat gold. So yes, sometimes things do get past us.”

    The “we” Fahrer refers to are the  volunteers who keep the shop clean, orderly, and neat, and offer that personal assistance that sets St. Jude’s apart from an ordinary thrift shop.  The five ladies most often seen helping customers and hanging clothes are Carole, Lucy, Cathy, Mary Ellen and Delores, and Fahrer doesn’t lose a beat in saying “they’re what keep this store so good and our customers so happy. They always go the extra mile.  It’s the personal touch.”

   It isn’t unusual for someone to stop in or call and ask the shopkeepers to be on the lookout for something specific, like a piece of furniture, jewelry, china or a particular designer.  “We love the calls and we are on the lookout and will let them know when something we think meets their request comes in,” Fahrer continued.

   People shop at St. Jude’s for any number of reasons and come from as far as Middlesex and Ocean counties to check out what’s new. Some, like a woman from Union Beach shopping early one Saturday morning, come because “you can find things here you can’t find in a store.” Others come  “because I know I could never afford a pair of Sketchers for my son, and I found a pair here that were perfect and cost me $4.00.”  Some come because “it’s not like a regular store, it’s clean, it’s neat, and it’s just so much fun.” Or because they know they can find ‘little treasures.’         

     The shop, which is open Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is now accepting spring and summer items for donation.  “We’ve cleared out one of our storage areas, and now have this half off sale going on, so we have room to take in more items for the upcoming seasons.”  Of course, there are always seasonal items such as for Christmas or Thanksgiving available, and kitchen utensils and equipment are popular throughout the year.

      Nor is there any one particular thing that  people seek, Fahrer said. “We do have some collectors looking for certain designers and Knick knacks, like Hummel figures or Waterford or Lenox. And it’s so rewarding when we see how happy they are when they find something unexpected.”   Clothes, especially children’s, infants’ and outer wear are always popular, as is some of the costume jewelry attractively arranged in glass showcases.   “We have people who stop in to donate something, then stay to buy something else, “ she laughed, “there’s no doubt there truly is something here for everyone.”

     For further information on the shop, or to ask the shopkeepers to set aside a specific item, the phone number is 732-291-2156. If calling during closed hours, leaving a return number will ensure a return call.