HAMPSTEAD —It’s a sunny spring Saturday, and visitors to the Hampstead Public Library and Elaine David Thrift Shop are greeted by a tall mannequin standing outside the front doors. The mannequin, fondly called Elaine, is dressed for a wedding in a long purple gown. It’s one of the many items offered in the Thrift Shop which is located in the Library basement.
“The Elaine David Thrift Shop is the biggest fundraiser the Friends of the Library have,” said President of the Friends, Marcia Blaine.
June marks the Thrift Shop’s 60th Anniversary in operation, and the volunteer workers are getting ready for a celebration and sale.
It began in the summer of 1959, and Mary E. Clark was one of the Shop’s original founders. At that time, donated clothes were sorted at Mary’s home and then were sold at the wood-working building, which was next to the Hampstead High School, now the Town Hall. The original name, Hollyhock Thrift Shop, was inspired by the flowers growing around the Shop building.
Mary Clark was a lover of the Library, a onetime Library Trustee, and she had a passion for a good deal. When she began the Thrift Shop, astronaut Alan Shepard’s mother was a frequent contributor and her clothing was in big demand by customers.
“During the early years, Shop proceeds were kept in a coffee can,” stated Blaine. “We’ve come a long way since then.”
Cay Robbins, Jeanne Cooke and other dedicated volunteers were instrumental in the Shop’s shift to Hadley Hall at the Congregational Church. Later when the Library moved to its current location on Mary E. Clark Drive, the Hollyhock Thrift Shop followed, opening in the Library basement in 2006.
Former Librarian and Thrift Shop Manager, Elaine David further grew the shop, and with the help of other volunteers insured the Shop was open two days a week year round. Elaine had noticed that customers came to the shop from a number of surrounding towns, often shopping for family members or neighbor. Some ship the garments overseas to relatives and friends. Others, through church mission projects, forward the much-needed clothing to countries such as Africa and Poland. The same holds true today, and the Shop workers try to help those in need.
“We have families who are referred to us from the St. Anne Ecumenical Food Pantry,” said one volunteer, “And they can get some clothes free of charge.”
After the passing of Elaine David, the Shop name was changed to honor her. Today, the busy volunteers always try to make Elaine proud as they continue to make changes and improve the store layout and offerings.
In its sixty years, the Shop has raised over $110,000. Thus, enabling the Friends of the Library to provide funds for Summer Reading Programs, Spring Read books, many museum passes, the big electronic sign, new technology devices, and much more.
To celebrate this milestone anniversary, the Elaine David Thrift Shop is having a $1.00 Sale on Tues., June 18 and Sat., June 22, in which all items (except some jewelry) can be purchased for a dollar. Stock includes clothing, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and children. The Shop is open to the public and hours are Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. It is located in the Hampstead Public Library at 9 Mary E. Clark Drive in Hampstead, near the intersection of routes 111 and 121/Stage Road.