By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — Maryann Wittcop has been shopping at the Ladd Shop since she was a little girl.
“The prices are just right,” she said recently, smiling as she moved through the little Buffalo Avenue thrift shop, which recently celebrated its 25th year in business at 8662 Buffalo Ave.
The shop doesn’t look like much. It’s small and crowded, but extremely tidy, so that someone with patience and an affection for value might surely find just about anything their heart desires. “Look at this,” Wittcop said to a visitor, holding up a large, colorful holiday tin. “You could put your Christmas cookies in here and it only costs $2 dollars.” She smile as she thought for a minute and said, “I’m buying it.”
Wittcop noted that just about everything in her LaSalle home has come from the shop, from dishes to clothes to holiday decorations. “The prices are just right,” she said with a smile.
Prices should be right, as they haven’t changed for at least a decade, according to 13-year volunteer Phillys Sicoli. Blouses, skirts and slacks are still $3. Children’s clothes are between 75 cents and $1.50. Gifts like a shiny, unused glass picture frame, can cost as much as $5. But there are gently used linens, toys, shoes and jewelry for those who care to break a five.
It’s just a little place, but as a fundraising operation, the shop is pretty formidable.
Over the years, the volunteers have been able to send upwards of more than $300,000 to Lutheran Pioneer Camp and Retreat Center and two group homes run by the Lutheran Service Society. The shop was named for the Lutheran Association for the Developmentally Disabled, thus the name Ladd Shop.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said volunteer bookeeper, Elton Rengstorf, a retired Lutheran pastor from Lewiston. “We always say God really continues to bless us because we continue to get more donations without really working at it.”
About 20 volunteers keep the store open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sicoli said that the volunteers are a close-knit group that enjoy talking with their regular customers. In fact, there is a bulletin board of customers who are seeking certain items and collectibles and if the volunteers find them, they put a call out to whoever is seeking a certain style lamp or hats or clowns.
“If people are looking for something special we’re only too happy to help,” she said, adding that new volunteers and donations are always welcome.
In the long run, the volunteers get as much pleasure out of the little shop as the bargain hunters.
“It does me good,” Sicoli said of her volunteer hours. “It’s good for me.”
For more information contact the Ladd Thrift Shop at 283-9170.