This weekend, the Animal Care League’s 2nd Chance Shop is leaving its longtime home at 159 S. Oak Park Ave. and moving a little farther south. The resale store, growing steadily for the last year and a half, is going into space at 808 Harrison that’s twice the size.
“It’s always been a dream to have a bigger shop,” says manager Stephanie Mandolesi of the 860-square-foot space that was limited to taking in small household goods, clothing and jewelry. At the new location, Mandolesi says, furniture donations will be accepted, too.
The new location consists of two recently vacated units on Harrison Street near the Oak Park Avenue intersection, just north of the Eisenhower Expressway. Chatka Ruggiero, president of the board of Oak Park animal shelter, owns the building that 808 and 806 Harrison are in.
About two months ago, the units became vacant when an architecture firm and a design studio didn’t renew their leases. “I never had the vacancy before,” said Ruggiero, who has owned the building since 1974. “But they were discussing the space issue,” she said, referring to the resale shop, “and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, my gosh. I have that space.’ “
A brick wall between the units was removed and a doorway was added. Although the shop will have more space on Harrison, its rent per square foot, according to Ruggiero, will be less expensive.
The 3/4-mile move, which will start Friday, will be with the help of volunteers. Packing and unpacking boxes will be Tau Gamma, a service group at Oak Park and River Forest High School. (When the resale shop opened on Oak Park Avenue in 1986, another OPRF service group had painted the interior.)
Shop fixtures, shelves and a cash register for the new location will be courtesy of Sear’s Pharmacy, another Oak Park business familiar with the challenges of a move. Covering some of the moving expenses, Mandolesi said, will be the Lynne Cooper Harvey Foundation, which is also donating an awning to match the one above the door and windows of the Westgate Flower & Plant Shop, a neighbor of the new location.
Arrival of the cats
Mandolesi, who is the only paid worker at the 2nd Chance Shop, has been manager of it since January 2008. She works with eight to 15 volunteers and expects soon to need more. Business has been growing steadily, she says. “It’s become mainstream to shop at these stores,” Mandolesi said, referring to second-hand shops. “The younger generation come by here. I try to make it more appealing to them.”
Mandolesi, who was Animal Care League’s office manager and adoption supervisor, says she’d noticed that some cats don’t get along with others at the shelter. “There are about 25 to 30 cats in a room at the Animal Care League,” she said, referring to the shelter’s office at 1013 Garfield. “Being able to look at a few in the store is a more comfortable environment.”
When she became manager of the resale shop, she started bringing a few cats at a time to the 2nd Chance Shop. Since she has been manager, about 50 cats have been adopted from the 2nd Chance Shop, says Mandolesi, who had worked for the Downers Grove Human Society before joining Animal Care League in 2003.
A shopping destination
“She has turned the place around and made it more inviting,” says Bryan House, a psychotherapist for combat veterans at the Veterans Readjustment Counseling Center, which is next door to the 2nd Chance Shop on Oak Park Avenue. House says his job can be stressful at times and that 2nd Chance Shop next door provides a relaxing environment.
“It’s local and the customers are regulars,” House said. “It fits the model of a community.”
Joan Hynes, a lifelong Oak Parker, has been shopping at 2nd Chance regularly for the last year.
“I have found excellent bargains,” Hynes said, describing a new Tiffany crystal bowl for $40.
“Many things are brand new with tags,” she added. “I tell my friends about it here.”
Bill Planek, president of GreenPlan Management in Oak Park, owns the space that the 2nd Chance Shop is moving from. Planek bought the property eight years ago, with the resale shop already well established in the space. He’s now looking for a new tenant.
“Nobody has confirmed anything,” said Planek, who’s hoping for another retailer.