Neighborhood League Shop and Woman’s Exchange, The Alley Door, Yorke Apothecary

An unusual sort of an advertisement made its appearance on page eight of last week’s “Suburban” under the heading of “History Repeats Itself.” The Board of Managers of the Neighborhood League Shops announced the coming opening of “The Alley Door”, the fifth shop in its “chain”, on Tuesday, March 9.

It was exactly 28 years ago that “The Suburban” carried a story describing a “new kind of store.” And it, too, had its opening on a Tuesday, March 9. This ‘new kind of store”, the first small Neighborhood League Shop, was located in the DiFerdinando building on North Wayne avenue.

At an organization meeting held previous to the announcement, Mrs. F.H. Diament had been chosen president of the new undertaking; Mrs. E.H. Molthan, vice-president, and Mrs. H.L. Seiple, secretary and treasurer. Mrs. A.H. O’Neal, who later succeeded Mrs. Diament in the presidency, was also instrumental in starting the enterprise that has proven so successful during the years following its inception.

Those who followed Mrs. Diament and Mrs. O’Neal have been Mrs. Molthan, Mrs. Seaton Schroeder, Mrs. C.J. Brooke Young, Jr., Mrs. E. Mortimer Newlin and Mrs. D.L. Trouant, present incumbent. Originators of the plan for this newest shop are Mrs. F. Warren Marshall, and Mrs. A.V. Purinton.

60_image01The “newest shop in Wayne” in 1926 had “almost everything imaginable” on sale when it opened its doors on March 9. Even before it was a shop, the Neighborhood League headquarters had accumulated donations from its well wishers for its work among the needy in this vicinity. Now, however, there was to be a change in the manner of this distribution.

To those who could not afford to pay anything for clothing and household articles the shop would gladly turn over, through the Neighborhood League, anything that would fill their needs. But there were others, more financially fortunate, “who were not in the least looking for charity, who had the money, though not very much money to be sure, to buy the baby new leggings, or a sturdy pair of shoes for sister.” And to such families as these, the League Shop was welcome, with its low prices. While the primary purpose of the new shop was not to make profit, it bolstered the self respect of those who wanted to pay their own way.

Soon this first small shop on North Wayne avenue needed a paid worker to head the volunteers who were busily selling the constantly increasing stock of household articles, furniture, bric-a-brac and clothing donated by friends of the Neighborhood League. Shop funds were now making possible monthly contributions to the Neighborhood League, and even after the purchase of an automobile for the use of the League nurses, there was still money left in the bank.

After discussing their plan with the director of the Neighborhood League, the shop managers decided on still another venture. This would be in the way of a Woman’s Exchange. Here those who needed to augment their incomes and who could not go outside their homes to do so, would be given the opportunity to sell what they could make at home. In October, 1931, a second shop was rented, this one on Audubon avenue, in the store now occupied by the Yorke Pharmacy. With some 50 consignors bringing in their products, this new venture was an immediate success.

It was not long before those in charge realized that the combined rent of their two separate shops was high, in proportion to the returns of them. A search was instituted for more reasonable, as well as more suitable locations for the shop, and in 1932 the Woman’s Exchange moved into its present quarters at 185 East Lancaster avenue, with the Neighborhood League shop as its immediate neighbor at 191 West Lancaster avenue.

The story of the Commission Shop and the Children’s Shop will be told next week, beginning with the Commission Shop, which came into existence because of the depression.

(Note: The series of illustrated articles on the Wayne Estate houses will be resumed later.)