Each time an independent business on Greenwich Ave or its environs succumbs to the pull of the chain store, Greenwich heaves a collective sigh.
But while house after historic house in Greenwich falls prey to the wrecking ball, the charming house at 28 Sherwood Place, built in 1900, takes on increasing significance as it stands defiantly, frozen in time.
While many Greenwich residents speed along Sherwood Place, a shortcut connecting Putnam Ave to Northfields and points north, the charming house that is home to the Greenwich Exchange for Women’s Work may feel like part if the furniture — invisible until it’s gone.
Over the years, the Exchange, where 200+ artisan-consignors receive 67% of the selling price for their wares, survives primarily through word-of-mouth. And it helps that the building is owned outright by the non-profit it houses.
The Exchange is a reliable resource for thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gifts, while providing a retail venue for vendors who consign their crafts and wares. Modestly priced, the handmade gifts defy the imagination, filling room after room with options displayed attractively and without clutter.
“I head there any time I need a present. Whether it’s a baby gift, a housewarming gift, birthday present…whatever,” said Susan Franco of Glenville, who was recently at the Exchange to buy Valentine’s Day items. “It’s on my way home from the YWCA but I’ll make a special trip if I need a gift and want a variety of options.”
While consignors receive 67% of the selling price, the remaining 33% is used for operating expenses and local charitable contributions. The Exchange is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors, who also volunteer alongside staff year-round and at the non-profit’s annual Christmas Fair at the Round Hill Club in November.
A Piece of History
Incorporated in 1901 the Greenwich Exchange became a charter member of the Federation of Woman’s Exchanges in 1936. Launched at a time when women were largely excluded from the workplace and providing “a shop where ‘genteel poor’ women could earn money by consigning their home-made, hand-crafted items,” the Greenwich Exchange perseveres while others have closed.
Defying changing economic forces and the array of 21st century opportunities for women in the workforce, the Exchange may have come full circle. While staying true to its roots, the operation offers patrons a way to shop local and support small businesses.
- The Greenwich Exchange for Women’s Work, 28 Sherwood Place in Greenwich.
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Hours: M-F 10:00-4:00 and Sat 10:00-1:00