MIDLAND PARK, N.J. — What began as a small gift shop in a train station a half-century ago has become a charitable Midland Park business that's brought in $3 million in five decades — all for a Paramus-based children's welfare and family services organization.
Prospect Street's Gift Shop Depot — which celebrated 50 years in business on Oct. 19 — donates 100% of its proceeds to Children's Aid and Family Services (CAFS).
A group of women who opened the shop in 1965 at the Ridgewood train station raised $5,000 in the first year — exceeding their goal by $2,000.
The Depot moved to Ho-Ho-Kus in the 1970s, where it remained for two years before shifting to Midland Park.
"We have two missions," co-director Eileen Negrycz said. "The main one is to help CAFS, but the other is to support local artists and American craftspeople."
Handmade soaps, baby blankets and locally-crafted pottery adorns shelves in The Depot, which is open Monday through Saturday.
Although it's one of 14 facilities run by the Federation of Women's Exchange, the Midland Park Depot is the only one that's entirely volunteer-based, Negrycz said.
"The Depot is a place for women who want to do something and they’re working full time," she said. "They still can do something that gives back to the community,"
One of the 140 volunteers — a businesswoman in Manhattan's financial district — told Negrycz that she's always wanted to own a shop. Volunteering at The Depot, however, has given her an opportunity to do just that.
"There are so many outlets that need help," Negrycz said. "We’re still able to provide that service and help the agency."
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