April Fool’s Day Draws a Crowd to Rummage Room

By Leslie Yager
On Tuesday the mannequins in the windows at Rummage Room in Old Greenwich drew a crowd. Not because all the merchandise on display was donated. That is always the case. The thrift shop — owned and run by the Women’s Fellowship of the First Congregational Church of Greenwich — resells donated merchandise to raise funds for a variety of family, women’s and children’s charities.

IMG_0001Tuesday was April Fool’s Day, and throughout the day the pair of mannequins in the window displays  on either side of the store entrance entrance were  people.

Starting at 10:00am, and right through 5:00pm, volunteers took up residence right inside the store windows.

From 2:00 to 2:30pm, the First Congregational Church pastors — John Collins the interim senior pastor and Mark Montgomery, the associate pastor of youth ministry (among other titles) — donned outfits reminiscent of 60s hippies.

ImagePastor Collins, a tuft of plastic Easter basket green “grass” stuck to his bare toes, strummed his guitar and sang “Hey Jude” as a crowd gathered on the sidewalk.

Not exactly shy, Pastor Montgomery, posed with a “bird in hand” and kept the onlookers on the sidewalk in high spirits by strumming his guitar and singing along with Pastor Collins.

IMG_0027After their window shift concluded at 2:30, the Pastors hit the road and an enthusiastic Nancy McConnell took her place inside the Easter themed window display.

Holding  a stuffed Easter Bunny, McConnell couldn’t keep a straight face and passers-by chuckled back. The April Fool’s Day mannequins-with-a-twist is a ten-year tradition at the Rummage Room, though the participation of the pastors on Tuesday was a first.


Some of the 60-strong volunteers and managers took a moment from the April Fool’s Day spoof at Rummage Room to pose for Greenwich Free Press.

The shop, which is run by one manager, four assistant managers and a fleet of 60 volunteers has been in current location for decades.

When it was first established the operation was located in the church. But the concept was a quick hit, and was moved to the spot at 191 Sound Beach Ave, the site of original Old Greenwich Post Office.

In October the Rummage Room celebrates its 50th anniversary. In fact, several of its volunteers count their years of service in decades.


According to Mary Jane Penwell, who took up residence in the window display from 1:00-2:00pm with Betty Bonsal, “Manager Maria Dreige has been the Italian designer ‘marker’ for the store for 18 years. And the very talented Nancy Hamilton has been doing all the window displays.”

In fact, the store has received a trove of awards of the years, many from the Chamber of Commerce, which are displayed on the wall behind the register.

The Women’s Fellowship of the First Congregational Church operates the Rummage Room to help support the following local, national and international charities:

  • Food Bank
  • Community Centers, Inc.
  • Child Guidance Center
  • YWCA Domestic Abuse
  • Neighbor to Neighbor
  • Family Re-Entry
  • Kids in Crisis
  • Liberation Meridian
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Honduras Projects

There are at least two dozen other charities the shop supports, including the Bowery Women’s Mission Shelter, newly added to the roster this year.

Volunteers are the lifeline of the Rummage Room. They are asked to give four hours a week of their time, and in return are offered “friendship and the joy of feeling that you are helping to make a difference in this world.”

Rummage Room is located at 191 Sound Beach Ave in Old Greenwich. Tel. (203) 637-1875

First Congregational Church of Greenwich is located at 108 Sound Beach Ave (opposite Binney Park). Like them on Facebook.


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