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Consignment shop raises money for the poor in Western Massachusetts

Date: 8/22/2012

By Lori Szepelak

SOUTH HADLEY — Cinderelli's Consignment Boutique, a unique consignment shop at 480 Newton St., recently celebrated its first anniversary of raising money for the less fortunate in Western Massachusetts.

"I believe that we are set apart from other shops in the area because we are the only shop which operates in the way that we do," Christine Burns of Providence Ministries for the Needy (PMN) said, during an interview with Reminder Publications. Cinderelli's is a fund-raising project of PMN.

Cora A. Rice, manager and development assistant of Cinderelli's, is an Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteer who is in charge of the day-to-day operations. Rice noted that in addition to recruiting and training volunteers, she enjoys the role of increasing awareness about the shop which in turn increases donations and revenue.

A VISTA volunteer is a great option for a project such as Cinderelli's," Burns said. "VISTA provides staffing to nonprofit projects that fit into the theme, Fighting Poverty With Passion. Volunteers work up to 40 hours a week for an entire year on the approved project. This experience helps us at Providence Ministries as well as our VISTA, as she gets real life work experience which will help her in her future career."

During a recent late afternoon visit to the shop, Rice echoed those sentiments.

"I love working with my volunteers, as well as our customers and those who bring in consignment items," Rice said. "We provide a casual, relaxed and friendly atmosphere which is welcoming to all."

For area residents looking for labels including Calvin Klein, Ann Taylor, Talbot's, Chico's, Leslie Fay, Forever 21, Hollister, Gap and Liz Claiborne, among many others, there was a wide variety of clothing and accessories for all ages available for sale, all at a discounted price.

Women's clothing, shoes, purses and jewelry dominate the shop, however, there is a small area reserved for children's items (newborn to size 14), and a section for men. Rice noted that sizes for women range from 0 to 18, and consignment items as well as donations are always welcome.

"Accessories are also an integral part of any outfit and Cinderelli's features a wide variety of costume jewelry, wallets, shoes, scarves, hosiery and purses," Rice said.

She added that on any given day, visitors will see items that still have the original price tag from a designer store but Cinderelli's price is a fraction of that cost.

"Consigned items must be in new or like new condition, and we are very meticulous about checking these items for rips, stains, pilling, and odors, as well as whether the item is in current style and season," Burns said. "Also, all items must be pressed and on hangers."

Area residents interested in consignment should contact Rice to make an appointment, as consignments are done by appointment only. The consignment term is 60 days, and it is a 50/50 consignment, meaning the consignee receives 50 percent of the profit, and PMN maintains the other 50 percent.

"With the donation option, the entire profit goes to benefit the various programs within Providence Ministries to help with the mission to feed, clothe and house the needy of greater Holyoke," Burns said. "Donations can be brought in at any time, and are tax-deductible."

Burns added there are three major reasons why area residents should visit the shop.

"First, because we have amazing designer clothing at a fraction of the retail cost," she said. "Secondly, we are helping to generate cash flow within our community by giving people an option to get some money back for those pieces which are just sitting in their closet collecting dust. And last, but definitely not least, anything purchased at our boutique contributes toward Providence Ministries' mission of helping those in need. Without the community support, we will be unable to remain open, so please come in and browse. We get new items in every day, and you never know what you might find."

PMN currently ministries several programs including Broderick House, Kate's Kitchen, Loreto House, Margaret's Pantry, and St. Jude's Clothing Center.

"As you can see, the money raised goes a long way to help those who are less fortune," Burns said.

Rice relishes the opportunity she has everyday to work with customers, helping them find the right outfit, as well as interacting with the "wonderful volunteers" who help staff the shop and the consignees.

Even after her one-year stint with VISTA is over, Rice wants to ensure that the shop succeeds in years to come.

"Recruiting college students majoring in business as volunteers will also help us to bring in new ideas and will assist the students by providing them with key business experience," Rice said.

For more information on volunteering, making donations or considering becoming a consignee, contact Rice at 540-0693. Shop hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Email inquiries can also be sent to

Burns noted that the shop will conduct periodic fund-raising programs such as the recent Wine and Chocolate event which was a "huge success."

"Please 'Like' us on Facebook and get your email address added to our email list so that you can stay in the loop, Burns said.