Name: Suzanne Davies
Family info: I have been married to Charley for 36 years and have three grown children - Philip, John and Anne. John is married to Brittany and they have a son named Banks (my first grandchild.) I have lived in Rye for 35 years.
Pets: Three dogs- Jackson, Tucker and Pickles.
What is the name and description of your organization? Rye Presbyterian Thrift Shop. The shop takes in beautiful donations from the community and sells them to fund grants to local nonprofits.
Before working at the thrift shop, what was your career? Many years ago, I worked in both fixed income sales and trading. Since then, I have held several volunteer positions in the community including being a PO president at both the middle and high schools, president of RPC Women’s association and a Stephen Minister.
How would you describe your work?
I am at the helm of a business that is also a fellowship activity. It is the balance that is so unique. We have a group of approximately 50 volunteers. We are fortunate to have space at the church, which we share with other groups so I interact with lots of different groups of people. I am lucky to have a business to grow, staffed with bright volunteers from Rye and our local neighborhoods that does so much good for nonprofits in our community.
We get incredible donations, some that require research to price. We then work hard to show our merchandise and market it to the community. And we get excited on good sale days because it means we have more funds to donate.
How did you get involved?
Many years ago, I was president of the Women’s Association. The thrift shop is actually a part of the WA. At the time I had very small children and could not dedicate time to the shop. When my children were close to graduating from Rye, Cindy Kuster approached me to volunteer. I ultimately took the helm, which had been shared by Cindy and Nancy Bassett for ten years.
What were some of your past projects at the thrift shop?
I am in my ninth year, so there have been plenty of projects. First and foremost, I have focused on our volunteers, who always have new ideas of how to grow our business. We are constantly editing our space and what donations we take to best serve our community.
Our space downstairs is actually a bunch of small rooms. During covid, we did not open down here because we did not feel safe. I knew when we moved back, we needed a solution. We actually took everything off our shelves and started over, making each shelf a pretty space. We created larger walkways. We also move items in and out of the rooms we share each week. By keeping our dedicated rooms pretty, we could move less, making set up and clean up easier.
Last year, we cleaned out our entire space, making them more shopper friendly. It was a huge job, but our space looks so much nicer now. Our customers (and staff) feel more welcome. It is also easier to shop as items are more visible with less being shown on each shelf.
What have you learned while working at the thrift shop?
When you manage any organization, you never do it alone. The people you work with are so important and while their job may be smaller than yours, it is no less important. We have grown into what we are because of all the great volunteers we have. I am often amazed at the skills others possess that I do not. I try not to look for a person to fill a job, but look for good people who will help us grow in directions never imagined.
This particular job was very time consuming, and when I suggested, the group backed it one hundred percent. The end result was better than anyone thought because so many people put their special skills to work.
What do you love most about what you do?
The people! I have so many talented volunteers. Together we are able to raise funds for so many worthwhile causes.
What is the biggest challenge you've face?
COVID! In 2019, our shop gave out a record $82,000 in grants. We were on schedule to possibly do the same when we were forced to shut down. I was then given the job of “reopening”. Our plan had to follow reopening rules for Churches, nonprofits and retail…. Then it came to me- We could open in the parking lot! I knew we would have to close for the cold, but it was a start. (Of course I had not accounted for the wind and one day the jewelry started blowing away…) We were able to make about $25,000 and it became a place for Rye friends to congregate and shop. Our church gave us funds to make our nonprofits whole. The following year we went into the assembly room (windows open) and this year we are back downstairs.
Every year is different and we are constantly changing. Volunteers continue to think out of the box and the ideas are amazing. There is a lot of energy in our group and a feeling we could continue growing and growing. And yes, so much compassion for the people we help through our grant process.
What is your best tip for others looking to give back to the community? Or your best tip for moms?
Everyone has special gifts. Use them. Find something you love to do and do it with people you like being around. It is okay to start small if you don’t have time for a big project.
What are some alternative careers you would have liked to have?
So many. I love design, marketing, and sales. I like to manage. There has always been a book idea…And it would be great to earn a salary again one day!
If this is a second “career” for you, do you have advice regarding reinventing yourself?
Go with your strengths and see where they lead you.
Any other fun details about you?
I love to walk, sometimes with a dog, sometimes alone. Summer is my favorite season because the days are longer and I love the water. And my favorite times are with family and friends.
Check out the thrift shop details here: https://ryepc.com/ministries/thrift-shop/
*Donations can be made on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 - 11:30am, and the the shop is open on Thursdays from 10:00-1:00pm. ALL of the money they make is donated to local non-profits helping women and children (including The Carver Center, Open Door, Rye Recreation senior program, Rye Recreation day camps, etc).