Kathleen's Closet, the thrift shop of The FoodBank of New Jersey, Southern Branch, is moving to Festival at Hamilton and plans to open there in mid-December. The nonprofit hopes to attract more shoppers and donations of items to sell in its new location, where it will be the only thrift shop for several miles.

The shop has successfully operated for more than a year in Egg Harbor Township's Shore Mall, but was notified it cannot stay because parts of the mall are being closed.

Volunteers have already painted the inside of the shop and done some other cosmetic work, said thrift shop manager Lisa Burke, of Egg Harbor Township.

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Carpet donated by Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa will be installed next week. Atlantic City Linen Supply, Inc. is providing moving assistance and trucks, said FoodBank Executive Director Margie Barham.

"When the FoodBank asks us to do something, we do it," said Victor Nappen, of Atlantic City Linen, who has been on the nonprofit's advisory board for four years. "The new site is well thought out by Margie and her team. Our role is just to help with logistics."

Electrician Bob Corson, of Mays Landing, also donated his labor to get the new site ready, Burke said.

Barham hopes the new shop will raise at least $50,000 per year for the FoodBank, which buys and distributes food to more than 250 local charities such as food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and more. It also collects leftover food from several casinos and restaurants through its Extra Helping program, distributes food on behalf of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, and runs an onsite Community Assistance Pantry for residents of Egg Harbor Township.

On a recent day, Burke and volunteer Deborah Tinsley, of Galloway Township, were waiting for the cable company to arrive to hook up service at the new location. And the FoodBank's IT Manager Peter Burghdorff, who works out of the Hillside branch in Union County, was running wires for computers to be installed.

The 2,700-square-foot new space is about 600-square-feet smaller than the Shore Mall shop, so the FoodBank will no longer sell big items such as furniture, or as many household items as it sold before. Instead, it will focus on clothing, Burke said.

"It will have more of a boutique feel," Burke said, adding the old store remains open until the new one is ready to go.

Barham said clothing has accounted for about 80 percent of sales so far, so it makes sense to make that the priority.

"It will be clothing for the whole family, but clearly there will be an interest in baby and children's clothes, given our neighbor," said Barham, referring to the Women's Medical Center practice next door.

Barham said the nonprofit has never held an open house in its new main warehouse and offices, which were constructed on the site of its original building on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township, next to the Garden State Parkway.

The organization moved into it in July, but has been so busy since then it hasn't had an opportunity to throw a party.

"I still have boxes in my office I haven't unpacked yet," Barham said. "We've been busy just working and then the hurricane happened, then Thanksgiving." The agency is too busy over the holiday season, distributing food to those in need, to take the time to celebrate. But interested groups can get tours of the facility, she said.

For now the focus is on getting the new shop up and running, so Kathleen's Closet can continue to support the mission while helping people buy what they need for less.

Tinsley said she has volunteered for the shop since early summer, and is a dedicated thrift shop shopper.

"Everything I have on today, from head to toe, I bought in the thrift shop," she said, "even the jewelry."

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


If You Go

Kathleen's Closet at Festival at Hamilton, across the Black Horse Pike from the Hamilton Mall. Opens mid-December and seeks donations of gently used or new clothing, jewelry, accessories, shoes and more. Hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 609-383-8843, ext. 104.

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