Roamin' Catholic Seniors

Selective Seconds: where faith, good works and Facebook intersect

When a newly married couple was searching for a very particular art print as a present for the bride’s soon to be married sister, they didn’t go window OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAshopping.

Instead, they browsed Facebook and Craig’s List. It wasn’t long before they found a framed copy of the print — entitled “Wedding Day” — at Selective Seconds, a high quality furniture and accessories store operated as a fundraising venture by the dedicated St. Vincent de Paul volunteers of St. Rose Parish, Belmar.

The couple, who traveled an hour both ways to fetch the print — a traditional gift for newly married couples in their family — were just the latest in a growing list of folks who have found just what they were looking for in the shop with the help of digital media. Included among them, a lady from Long Island who hurried down to claim two chairs after she spied them in the Selective Seconds photo gallery on Facebook.

There was also the fabulous Pulaski triple Edwardian dresser that a gentleman regarded as such a prize, he had it shipped to his home in Louisiana, said Margaret More, who lends her considerable talents as director of Selective Seconds.

“He had all the other pieces of  the set which had been discontinued. He wanted to complete it and he when he found it here, he never haggled, he just said OK,” More said with a big smile as she surveyed the empty spot in the store where the huge dresser and its mirror stood only a few weeks before.

“That was our biggest ever!”

Now, local folks have been checking out what’s available in Selective Seconds since the Vincentians opened it a few years back but getting it onto Craig’s List and Facebook has opened the shop’s horizons exponentially said More and Kathy Alexander who manages the day-to-day operations.

Tucked into the parking lot of Belmar Plaza just across from the dollar store and a stone’s throw from the railroad tracks, it’s a busy place on the days it’s officially open: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s even busy on the days it’s officially closed: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday when the volunteers handle many weekly chores including deliveries, cleaning and scrubbing (“making sure we’re good to go” as Moore puts it) and then, “zhuzzing” their term for staging the rooms in the former warehouse to show off the merchandise at its best.

The “zhuzzing” includes sweetly scented candles for ambiance, walls accented by white lights strung through grapevine, etc., all of which adds to the boutique atmosphere the Vincentians have been fostering since they took on this challenge.

In a case of true serendipity, the enterprise was born out of a furniture outreach for those in need that began in 2011. More and Alexander shared how one day the Vincentians were contacted by a man who wanted to give away the home goods from the condominium of his daughter, who had recently died.

“There were so many things, beautiful things — cut glass chandeliers, crystal, furnishing and household goods,” More said. “He said that if we didn’t take it, he would throw it away.”

His offer led to a “brain storm,” More said. Belmar was soon to hold a town-wide garage sale and the volunteers decided to plunge in with merchandise from the condominium and did very well. Things took off from there, first in an annex of St. Rose High School which they were able to use for the summer. Sales there totaled totaled $15,000 in 12 weeks.

With generous donations of fine merchandise flowing in from a host of people who supported the Vincentian fund raiser, it wasn’t long before Selective Seconds moved to its present location — “it was a mess” Alexander said, “but Margaret was able to see it without the walls”. A whole lot of energy and willpower, not to mention the continuous outpouring of generous donations, have made it what it is today, they said.

They are very specific that the focus is totally on raising funds to help those in need.  “We’re all about free” where operating costs are concerned,  More said. “We take every step to avoid incurring expenses. We don’t pay for anything — even the electric,” she said, stressing that point as she turned on the string of lights that illumine the decorative grape vine swag.

“Everything is donated, even the fixtures,” she noted. “We’re very tight. We want the money from sales to go where it is needed.”

Alexander smiled and added: “frugal, we’re frugal. … We want the dollars to do double duty” for those who rely on the good works of St. Vincent de Paul.

More, a one time marketing director, explained that advertising on Facebook and Craig’s List fits into that plan. “It’s free and what that means, as an example, is that more electric bills get paid.  … This all comes from the heart.  It’s not just business, it’s what we believe in and do. It’s our story.”

Selective Seconds is located at 911 Main Street, Belmar  (in the rear of the building.) Find it at http://www.facebook.com/SelectiveSecondsfurniture,  Craig’s List, call 732-894-9393 or go to strosebelmar.com/svdp

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