Local Non-Profit, Greenwich Exchange Artisan Gift Shop Celebrates 120 Years in Greenwich with Event on Oct 21

This year, The Greenwich Exchange on Sherwood Place, is celebrating 120 years of continuous service.

They invite you to join them from 12-5:00pm on October 21, under a tent in their private courtyard garden at 28 Sherwood Place to celebrate this tremendous achievement.

Expect special sales, prizes, refreshments, bubbly beverages and more.

Undated photo of 28 Sherwood, home to the Exchange for Women’s Work.

For those not familiar with it, The Exchange is a gift shop, a non-profit 501c (3) organization, run by a volunteer board of directors who also volunteer year-round in the shop.

Their mission is to support the art of hand crafted items and to provide a marketplace for over 200 talented artisans and consignors who create thoughtful, modestly priced, one-of-a-kind gifts. With few exceptions, the Greenwich Exchange has organized a holiday boutique every November since the 1940’s at the Round Hill Club.

Women’s Exchanges represent one of the oldest continuously operating volunteer movements in the United States.

At one time, there were almost 100 across the country, each with its own personality, merchandise and location, but all with the same goals: helping others to help themselves. In addition to scoring a unique gift, People who shop at a Woman’s Exchange help a consignor to achieve economic stability and an Exchange to remain a viable business outlet for consignors and selected vendors.

The antiques cottage at the rear of 28 Sherwood is full of treasures. Photo: Leslie Yager

The Greenwich Exchange first opened in 1901 and moved to various downtown locations until 1937 when it settled in its present home at 28 Sherwood Place.

In 1934, the Greenwich Exchange became one of the 6 charter members, (and the only remaining founding member) of the Federation of Women’s Exchanges which meets annually. Delegates from coast to coast get together to share information, crafters and ideas as well as an overall sense of fellowship.

In 1832, Elizabeth Stott and 16 benevolent associates started the Philadelphia Ladies Depository Association to help women of diverse backgrounds, from wealthy widows who suddenly found themselves with no family income, to poor women whose families needed the added income for food and shelter. The Association allowed these women to support themselves and their families by selling valuable possessions or arts and crafts of their own creation.

Similar shops began opening across the country. At a time when there were few opportunities for women, many worked in factories for long hours in order to supplement their family incomes. Eventually women in more than 70 cities from Brooklyn to New Orleans to San Diego sold their merchandise on consignment and for a profit.

Today there are 16 Exchanges remaining across the United States. Brooklyn is the oldest, having opened in 1852. All the Exchanges are non-profit, all are unique, and all draw strength from one another.

Society has changed greatly since then, and women are now welcomed in every employment field. Still, there remains an intense desire and need for many men and women to earn income from home. Some consignors struggle with difficult family situations such as a special needs child, a handicapped spouse, severely limited income, their own restricted mobility, or live in rural areas which makes holding outside employment extremely limited or impossible. They not only represent local artisans but those throughout the US and from developing countries, giving them the opportunity to earn income that pays for food, education, healthcare and housing by bringing their unique handmade products and stories to customers. The proceeds from their skilled handwork can bring financial independence, peace of mind and self-esteem

If you are interested in visiting the Greenwich Exchange, you’ll find us 28 Sherwood Place in Greenwich. Other Exchanges are in Scarsdale NY, Southport and Old Lyme CT, Midland Park NJ, Dedham and Lincoln MA, Dallas TX, St. Louis MO, Memphis TN, West Reading PA, New Orleans LA, Pinehurst NC and St. Augustine FL.