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Business Booms at Thrift Shop

Former Bloomingdale's buyer and product developer Michelle Marrucco has a simple business strategy for the Greenwich Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop -- window displays. The themes of the windows vary from month-to-month. Right now, the theme of one side is "art show," the other, "Halloween." Marrucco, the store's manager, says the strategy works to bring in customers.

"People stop and nearly get into accidents looking at our windows," said Marrucco. "Business is brisk. There was a line outside when we opened this morning."

This week, the Auxiliary Thrift Shop is celebrating its first anniversary at its location on Hamilton Avenue, though it's been in existence since 1921.

Marrucco, a Stamford resident, spent her career as a buyer for Bloomingdale's before developing products for other retail stores. She says many of the products she developed have shown up as donations in the store.

"We are an industry that is thriving," said Marrucco. "Fortunately with us, the greening of retail is what we're all about." Unlike many retail stores struggling in the recession, the thrift shop's popularity has not waned. Marrucco credits this to the store's core strategy of recycle and reuse.

The stores volunteers sort and analyze donations on a daily basis, a task Marrucco describes as "painstaking."

"We would be lost without our volunteers. We couldn't run a store of this size without our volunteers," said Marrucco. They look for gently used clothing, high-end designer fashions for men and women, furniture, housewares, shoes and accessories.

"I'm just so happy, because there's new faces every single day, and I truly mean that," said Marrucco. "People of every shape, form, size come in here [from] every part of Fairfield county, from the back country of Greenwich to housing projects."

The thrift shop is located at 199 Hamilton Ave. and is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations can be made Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

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