The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Carthage, Jasper County

April 22, 2010

Mike Pound: Nearly New is good for everyone involved

CARTHAGE, Mo. — I’m having a hard time finding something wrong with the Nearly New store.

See, technically, I am a member of the mainstream media, and everyone knows that all we in the mainstream media do is sit around, sip white wine spritzers (whatever those are), vote for Obama and criticize things.

But the Nearly New store at 1203 Grand Ave. in Carthage has me stumped. I can’t find anything wrong with the place. Nearly New is a consignment shop owned and operated by Grace Episcopal Church and pretty much run by the St. Martha, St. Margaret and St. Catherine’s guilds.

Cindy Chilton is the manager of Nearly New. She told me that Nearly New has been operating in Carthage since 1962. She said the store sells used clothing, footwear, accessories, jewelry, books and assorted knickknacks. The folks at the store place a premium on quality, and on any given day, you can find folks wandering through the aisles of the small store looking for bargains. And, more often than not, they find them, Cindy said.

“We try to be picky when we accept items for the store,” she said. “The main question we ask is, ‘Would you pay money for this?’”

People who bring in items to the store receive 50 percent of the sale price, and the store keeps the other 50 percent, Cindy said.

“We pay our consignment people, we pay our bills, and then anything left is divided equally among the three church guilds,” she said.

The guilds use that money to help fund various charities and other not-for-profit agencies in and around the Carthage area, Cindy said.

The store’s overhead is, by design, fairly low. The church owns the building (longtime Carthage residents will remember that the building for years was the home of Morris Market), and volunteers help run the place. Cindy said she has more than 50 people who help out at the shop. Many of those folks, as you might expect, are members of Grace Episcopal Church, but many of them are people who just enjoy helping others.

And make no mistake: Helping others is what the Nearly New shop is all about.

Cindy said the store is one of your “win/win” deals for the community. The church — and, by extension, the community — benefits from its share of the take from the sales. The people who bring items to the shop to be sold benefit from their share of the take. And, perhaps most importantly, the people who shop at the store benefit by being able to purchase quality products at bargain prices.

Even things that don’t sell will eventually be put to good use. Cindy said that if an item doesn’t sell after 60 days, it will be donated to Comparisons Ministries. Nothing, she said, is ever thrown out.

The Nearly New shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Donations are accepted during normal store hours, but if you’re planning on taking in a large quantity of items, it’s best to call the shop at 417-358-7144 before taking them by the store. Cindy said she does ask that donated clothing items be cleaned and pressed, and it helps if the clothing is donated in the proper season. Right now, for example, the store has a large supply of spring and summer clothing for sale.

And because we are in the peak high-school prom season, Cindy wanted me to be sure to mention that the store has a number of formal dresses for sale.

“If someone is looking for a prom dress, tell them to call me,” she said.

The stuff in the store seldom runs more than a few bucks an item. Ideally, someone will get a great deal on some nice clothing, someone else will make a bit of money by selling the nice clothing, and the church will have a bit of money to give to worthy causes in the community.

“That’s what (the store) is all about, helping people out,” Cindy said. “It’s a good thing for everyone.”

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Carthage, Jasper County