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Shop of the Marne gives back to Army

POSTED: February 18, 2010 3:04 p.m.
Photo by Denise Etheridge/

Shop of the Marne manager Jamie Nicholas stands in the boutique's discount room, where holiday gifts are selling for 50 percent off original prices.

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Shop of the Marne, the not-for-profit Officers Spouses Club consignment shop at Fort Stewart, is open to all who walk through the gift boutique’s door. Anyone with access to the post may shop there.
The shop is located in a bright white clapboard house which used to serve as quarters for visiting dignitaries. The rooms are filled with jewelry, patriotic and holiday-themed gifts, baby clothes and accessories, decorative items for the home, books, picture frames and other hand-crafted items. The boutique is sandwiched between Building 1 and the PX, at 190 Stockton Circle.
Both officers and enlisted spouses volunteer their time to help run the shop, and military-connected craftsmen produce many of the gift items sold there. A portion of shop proceeds goes to scholarships and welfare for military dependents. Consignors gain some profit from sales of their items, and the rest pays for shop expenses, making the boutique self-sustaining.
OSC member Jamie Nicholas has managed the shop for the past year. Nicholas said her volunteer position is full-time, and rewarding.
“It’s like any business. To make a business grow, you have to put a lot of time into it,” she said. “I’m blessed with a staff who knows what they’re doing.”
Nicholas said she could not successfully run Shop of the Marne without her seven dedicated volunteer staff members, including assistant manager Kelly Whitlock, and Whitlock’s assistant, Christy Eakin. These women have been a creative force, helping to redecorate and modernize the boutique, she said.
The shop has expanded its clientele and its services in the past several months, according to Nicholas.
The boutique’s fashionable Magnolia Room, decorated in lavender and elegant black, is reserved for meetings, bridal and baby showers and other events, the manager said. A kitchen is located on the ground floor of the building, she said.
This added service has helped improve sales and brought more interest to Shop of the Marne, Nicholas said.
“Last December, we (Shop of the Marne) donated almost $2,200 to the scholarship and welfare fund,” she said.
Nicholas said some of the shop’s consignors are retired military members, who live in far-flung states such as Wisconsin and Kansas. The profit they receive helps them make ends meet, she said. And, the shop’s consignors take satisfaction in knowing they are giving back to the military community, Nicholas said.
“They know it’s going to a good cause,” she said.
Nicholas said 95 percent of the consignors at the shop are military-connected. And only about 30 percent of the items carried at the boutique are regular retail, she said.
Shop of the Marne consignors say giving back to the Fort Stewart community is a primary reason to sell their items there, but they also consign as a way to make friends and give themselves a creative outlet.
Kayce Schafer, the wife of a second lieutenant, said Fort Stewart is her husband’s first duty station. Schafer crafts diaper wipe purses, which can also be used to hold notepads and pens or grocery store coupons. The purses sell for $8.
She got involved in Shop of the Marne, and the spouses club, as a way to meet people.
“I just jumped in with both feet,” Schafer said. The young officer’s wife serves as the OSC scholarship committee chair.
Sue Burnette, the wife of a retired general, moved to Savannah nearly nine years ago. Burnette crafts Americana-style wooden shelves, storage chests, yard signs and ornaments. She said she has been painting wood for 20 years, but taught herself to cut wood in recent years.
“I cut whatever people want,” Burnette said.
The silver-haired woodworker said her garage is filled with saws and drills. Her made-to-order projects range from furniture accessories, like chests, to wooden ornaments shaped like installation buildings and American states.
“My motto is, if it’s a piece of wood, it is going to have a flag on it,” Burnette said.
Val Quintiliani, whose husband is a deputy inspector general, paints and personalizes metal pails, buckets and even the occasional horse trough.
Quintiliani’s consigned items may look colonial, or bear a unit’s emblem. Her large buckets have been used as beverage coolers for parties, and horse troughs have done the same for military balls.
The five-and-a-half gallon buckets she paints are priced at $45. Her small pails sell for $20 at Shop of the Marne.
“We try to sell items everyone can afford,” Nicholas said. Shop prices range from $2-$60, she said. “We even have gift certificates.”
Nicholas said she and her volunteer staff take their duties seriously, but they also enjoy the time they put in.
“What we do to support the soldiers is to support the families,” she said.
Shop of the Marne is open from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 4-7 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. the first Saturday of the month.
For more information, call 767-9268 or e-mail shopofthemarne@hotmail.com.
 

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