In spite of the fact that it was in the midst of the depression in the early 1930’s that the Neighborhood League Shop and the Woman’s Exchange moved into their present quarters on East Lancaster avenue, both shops flourished from the beginning. Then came the third selling venture, the Commission Shop, started because of the depression. With quarters located on the second floor just over the Neighborhood League Shop, this new shop soon became an integral part of the group. All worked toward the common goal of raising funds for the Neighborhood League, to carry on its work at a time when demands upon it were steadily increasing.
The inspiration for the Commission Shop came originally from the idea that it could be operated to help many people, and in so doing also be of financial aid in the work of the Neighborhood League itself. Many people might be willing to sell good clothing for which they had no immediate use, while others might be eager to buy these very things if they were moderately priced.
From the beginning, trade in the shop was brisk, quality of clothing sold on commission was good, and the prices were reasonable. Customers were never lacking.
Less than ten years after the start of the Commission Shop, a tea room was opened above the Woman’s Exchange, where attractive luncheons, at moderate price, are served daily. This venture, like those that preceded it, has proved more than successful.
Then, in May 1946, the fifth project got under way, with the opening of the Children’s Shop on Louella Drive. Like the other shops, it has grown steadily and prospered greatly. In the beginning it was an outlet for the congestion in the Commission Shop, but has now become a well-established unit in its own right, with a particular appeal all its own. Sizes range from the tiniest of infants’ wear up to clothes for the 12-year-old boy or girl. From there on, the Commission Shop takes over.
Those who place their clothing to be sold on commission in these two shops come mostly from the Philadelphia area, many of course from the immediate Main Line section, some few even from out of the state. Customers in the Children’s Shop are mostly mothers of families on the lookout for good clothing at bargain prices, and among the most consistent buyers are fond grandmothers with even better trained eyes for good buys. One of the special services of this shop is the maintenance of charts, giving ages and sizes of children in the various families who are customers of the shop.
No one walking along the west side of Louella Drive can fail to notice the attractive window displays in the Children’s shop. One day there may be a gay little party dress as pretty and dainty as if it had never been worn. And in the other corner perhaps a fur collared winter coat of excellent quality, while in between there are shoes and slippers that have scarcely been worn. Another day there may be corduroy overalls and T-shirts, or garments and small warm blankets for the newcomer.
Interestingly enough, much good clothing is bought in both the Commission shop and the Children’s Shop for shipment outside of the United States. Some has gone as far as Japan and Africa; there have been shipments to England and Europe, and to our neighbors in South America. Following major catastrophes in our own country,clothing for both adults and children has been purchased by local customers for shipment to relatives and friends in these areas.
It is impossible to estimate the widespread benefits that have come from the establishment of all the Neighborhood League shops from that day just 26 years ago, when the first small one was started in the little shop on North Wayne avenue, down to the present. “The Alley Door”, which ls about to open, will have purposes and objectives different from those of the shops that have opened previously.
(To be continued)