La Grange resale shop helps victims of domestic violence
Store manager Sandi Maxson hangs some clothing on the racks that was donated. The Hope Chest is an upscale resale shop that benefits the Constance Morris House, a shelter for abused women. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
What’s in store
Name: The Hope Chest
Address: 717 W. Hillgrove Ave.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Benefits: The Constance Morris House
To volunteer: Three-hour shifts are available by calling (708) 482-0359
Updated: January 21, 2013 1:56AM
LA GRANGE —When Sandi Maxson became manager of The Hope Chest four years ago, she had an eye for color and display learned while working in the cosmetics department of upscale retailer Neiman Marcus. With the help of discounts for not-for-profits from home improvement retailer, Lowes, she painted the walls lavender, the symbolic color of domestic violence awareness, and replaced the flooring to give the space an upscale boutique feel.
“It’s been a work in progress,” she said.
The Hope Chest was started in 1998 as an independent project to collect and distribute clothing and household goods for Constance Morris House residents as well as to raise money for its operations and programs. Recently, for instance, a resident who just landed a new job was taken to the shop and allowed to select about $300 in professional attire.
Wanting to leave customers with the feeling they got a bargain without cheapening the inventory, Maxson also has raised prices. But that hasn’t hurt sales, in part because of the 50-percent discount offered to seniors on Wednesdays. Though premium items such as Coach handbags are excluded, she said.
“Our sales from four years to now are triple,” she said.
The Hope Chest, which is appropriately located in a vintage strip mall at 717 W. Hillgrove Ave., La Grange, also partners with other businesses and organizations for the benefit of the Constance Morris House. For instance, Silver Moon Salon, a couple of doors down from the thrift shop, gives free haircuts, manicures and pedicures to Constance Morris House residents.
“It’s a real community here,” Maxson said.
Though she doesn’t anticipate a great deal of holiday traffic because The Hope Chest does not accept returns of exchanges, those wanting to give a gift while supporting the Constance Morris House, can buy a gift certificate.
The Hope Chest Board makes at least two contributions a year to the shelter, with contributions totaling about $200,000 over 14 years.
“That’s not counting the goods they provide to women,” noted Karin Mills, associate vice president of domestic and sexual violence at the Constance Morris House.
The Hope Chest Board also donates newly purchased household items, such as cleaning supplies, linens and mattress covers.