Bayside Gazette 10031 Old Ocean City Blvd.
Berlin, MD 21811
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Business

Local church helps community through storefront

8/30/12 | By Nathan Brunet, Staff Writer

BERLIN – For more than 50 years, members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Berlin have followed their mission to reach out to those in need via their Church Mouse Thrift Shop on North Main Street in Berlin.

Strictly selling items that have been donated to the church, clothes, household items, jewelry, books and collectables are among the many products sold at an affordable price.

“We take pride in keeping the shop clean, organized and offer products that are gently used and often some new items. Some are one of a kind,” said Helen Wiley, coordinator of Church Mouse Thrift Shop.

Wiley has been running the store for about six years with the assistance of her husband, Mike, who is also the chairperson of the Berlin Parks Commission.

“I’m kind of the informal utility guy,” he said.

The couple moved from Annapolis to Berlin after retiring seven years ago and they have learned what customers want and expect to find at a thrift shop.

Many other members and non-members of the church work at the store and some who have devoted more than 20 years of service, working into their 80s and 90s.

The shop is owned by the church, all workers are volunteers and all proceeds go to the church’s outreach mission that provides aid to numerous organizations such as Worcester Youth and Family Counseling and Habitat for Humanity locally and beyond.

Although the standing shop is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Church Mouse Thrift Shop has operated in at least two other locations in the past 50 years, The Atlantic Hotel and a building on Old Ocean City Boulevard.

Helen said Church Mouse Thrift Shop was able to survive the economic downturn Berlin suffered in the past because of the store’s specialization.

“During tight economic times thrift shops thrive. We are no exception and we are here to provide affordable clothing and other useful items for folks,” she said.

Newer items she is beginning to see donated are e-readers, as reading material for the beach is a common purchase at the store.

A program was started in the spring in which the store supports a nonprofit organization for each month’s Second Friday Art Stroll event.

“We donate the entire proceeds for that day to the charity and pass out information on them,” she said.

Church Mouse Thrift Shop is regularly open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Mondays, two high school girls have helped open the store during the summer, but no hours are certain. For more information, search Church Mouse Thrift Shop on Facebook and visit www.stpaulsberlin.org.

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