Two north Wilmington resale shops operated by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) will be closing their doors, the organization announced today.
Located in the Talleyville Shopping Center, Great Stuff Savvy, featuring designer women’s clothing and accessories, and Great Stuff Home and Resale, will both close this summer the DBCC informed supporters on Facebook. The popular shops are run by a corps of long-time volunteers, including many breast cancer survivors.
Since its inception 10 years ago, the Great Stuff shops have contributed more than $650,000 to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. Proceeds benefitted the DBCC’s breast health programs and services throughout the state.
The original shop – Great Stuff, which initially sold both apparel and home décor – would have celebrated its 10th anniversary this fall. As donations and business expanded, Great Stuff decided to open a second shop in the center, splitting the home resale from the fashion shop.
In an announcement to both DBCC and Great Stuff followers on Facebook today, the organization said they will be closing the two shops this summer due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their statement in part read, “The financial impact of the pandemic upon our economy and the retail industry has also taken a toll on our ability to sustain our retails shops in the foreseeable future.”
“We take this opportunity to thank our Great Stuff staff, volunteers, benefactors, patrons and friends who have contributed in some way to Great Stuff along this tremendous journey together. We will miss you!”
Dale Maahs has been Great Stuff Savvy’s general manager since its inception, overseeing a growing group of loyal volunteers who regularly work at the shops as well as an equally expanding clientele. Many shoppers see Great Stuff as a local gathering space where women touched by breast cancer could come get a dose of inspiration – where store volunteers offer a warm smile and lend words of encouragement.
She says Great Stuff has always been much more than a shopping experience.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to help out at the store all these years,” Maahs said. “I love how it’s evolved and grown. We’ve built such a wonderful family there, and we do whatever we can to fight this insidious disease. It’s grown into a safe haven for families touched by breast cancer. And we have a wonderful, committed staff. They’re there because they want to be,” said Maahs.
While Maahs says the two months preceding the stores’ closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic were “soft,” she says the retail industry is cyclical and that she expected the store to do well when it reopened in June. Several volunteer staff members have been collecting donated merchandise and storing the items at their homes for the last two months, in anticipation of the store reopening this spring.
The news about the closure was unexpected to Maahs, who learned about the DBCC and Great Stuff Boards’ decision on Thursday.
“It breaks my heart. Great Stuff was like a second home to me.” She added that if the Boards were to reconsider their decision, her staff would swing into action to do whatever they could to keep the store open. “They are in it heart and soul 150%,” she said.
One person who said she had volunteered with the shops for the past 10 years said she and others were surprised and saddened by the news and were not given the opportunity to discuss how the store might be able to continue when stores begin reopening June 1. The store ’employs’ 50 volunteers.
Some took to Facebook to voice their disappointment. A few asked if there was a way for DBCC to reconsider its decision or take the business online.
Ida Sher wrote on DBCC’s Facebook page today, “I am a volunteer and was absolutely amazed by the decision. Everybody is in the red but we should still give it a try and see what happens… Everyone in the organization should make some financial sacrifices to try to help out. Our managers are the best. All the friends we have all made. Thought I would be there till I couldn’t do it physically. I will be lost on Fridays and Saturdays and miss seeing everybody.”
Robin Sesan shared on Facebook, “I am heartbroken for myself, our Great Stuff family and friends. Great Stuff is so much more than a resale shop. It is a community of women supporting one another and working together for a common goal. At a time when we all need hope and things to look forward to this is a devastating loss. I can only hope that we will be back stronger than ever when we are on the other side of the pandemic. I will miss seeing my “Saturday Girls.” I want to thank Trish, Barbara and Dale for creating this amazing community.”
Barbara Eckels has been the store manager at the Great Stuff Home resale shop since 2014, where people can find great bargains on everything from Turkish carpets to Tervis tumblers.
Revenues in the first four years averaged $46,000, generating $185,000 through 2014. But as sales grew the average annual revenue over the last 10 years increased to $60,000.
To help kick off a year of 10th anniversary celebratory events, the DBCC held a fundraiser last October with bridal fashion designer and reality TV personality Randi Fenoli.
Held inside Salesianum School’s auditorium, the event featured a model wearing a stunning, full-length pink bridal gown specially designed by Fenoli as a symbolic gesture dedicated to breast cancer survivors and women around the world “who impress me with their tremendous strength and immense courage,” he said.
Great Stuff Savvy was founded by Greenville resident Stacey Bacchieri and her late husband Gregg in 2010, active community volunteers. A breast cancer survivor herself, Stacey was diagnosed in 2002, went through chemotherapy and radiation, and has been healthy for more than 15 years.
As a result of her experience, Stacey wanted to help other women facing the same illness and decided to focus on DBCC as her vehicle. Thinking there might be an opportunity to give new life to slightly worn elegant evening wear, she came up with the idea of creating a resale shop for women’s apparel.
TSD was unsuccessful in reaching representatives of DBCC and their Facebook post did not provide timing regarding the final date Great Stuff will close its doors.