Helping Neighbors: Second Glance Thrift Boutique Boosts Family Pantry's Bottom Line

By: Debra Lawless

Topics: Hunger

Clothing gets sorted at the Family Pantry before making its way onto the racks at the Second Glance Gift Shop.


Everywhere you look in Second Glance Thrift Boutique in West Harwich you see beautifully-decorated Christmas trees – large and small, white and green.

Women’s clothes in red, green and black, suitable for any holiday gathering you might be planning to attend, are hanging nearby on racks. The store is bright, airy, spotless – an intriguing place to shop. In fact, someone rating the Cape’s thrift shops online dubbed it “the Nordstrom of thrift shops,” and this has become the store’s tagline on Facebook where reviewers call it “awesome” and “a gem.”

Like most thrift shops, this one is raising money for a non-profit, in this case the Family Pantry of Cape Cod.

“Our sales have been very good,” store manager Carol Chaves says. “Every dollar buys four meals for the pantry.”

In fact, “the revenue stream is part of our sustainability plan,” says Family Pantry Executive Director Christine Menard. “Every dollar spent there is a direct donation to the pantry and lessens our dependence on grant writing and fundraising.” Menard declines to specify exactly how much money the store raises.

Shortly after Second Glance opened at 10 this weekday morning, volunteers in blue bib aprons behind the front desk greet a visitor with warm “good mornings.” Other volunteers are decorating a tree with ornaments that sell for $1 each.

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This is Second Glance’s third Christmas in this, its third location at 265 Main St., West Harwich. Second Glance began in a small space on Cross Street in February 2007, later moved to Harwich Port to a larger space, and then opened here in November 2015. The building was “totally renovated to suit the needs of the boutique that we are,” Chaves says. “We’ve been going gangbusters ever since.” Sales figures continue to be very robust.

A recent capital campaign has just about paid off the mortgage thanks to the great generosity of the community.

One reason the shop does so well is, of course, attributable to its volunteers. Chaves lists 80 volunteers on her roster, mostly women, with a handful of men, one of whom moves the furniture. (Chaves is salaried, as is her part-time assistant, Doris Gould.) This morning the volunteers appear to be enjoying themselves both in the front of the store and behind the scenes. It’s a happy workplace.

“I’ve got a great team,” Chaves says.

Another reason for Second Glance’s success is its merchandise. When the shop moved here it was able to expand into non-upholstered furniture, “which is a great asset to the sales,” Chaves says. Initially, some people had reservations about the new location in West Harwich because unlike in Harwich Port, the store would not draw foot traffic. Those fears turned out to be unfounded. This location has ample parking, and lots of repeat and new customers stop in.

“We have been found,” Chaves says.

Women’s clothing remains the number one seller. Donors bring their used clothing to the Family Pantry where volunteers do an initial sorting. Children’s clothing is retained there and given away, as is some used clothing. The top quality women’s and men’s clothing is sent to Second Glance. In the back rooms any clothing with a slight stain is run through a stacked washer and dryer. Other clothing goes through a steaming room where it is ironed. Volunteers work in a large back “processing” room that Chaves calls “the hub of the shop.” Here they sort and price clothing. The room is furnished with professional fixtures donated by T.J. Maxx.

Clothing appropriate for all holidays and all seasons drifts into the shop all year long. At this time of year spring and summer clothing is stored in the basement in large plastic bins, awaiting warm weather. Likewise, green clothing appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day, for example, is accordingly sorted and binned. Holiday clothing was recently taken out of storage and displayed.

Designer clothing is sometimes donated to the shop, and it is not impossible to come upon a pair of Ferragamo shoes here. Chaves calls the pricing “very fair.” Today a red Talbots blazer in size small is marked $12 and a red Herman Kay wool overcoat is $18. A stole in light fur is $25. Women’s and men’s clothing dominate the front of the store. Two jewelry cabinets, one containing high-end jewelry, are stocked. There are shoes, scarves and throws. And in the back of the store, home goods are appealingly arranged. Here wine glasses sell for between $1 and $2 apiece, and you can buy an entire matched set. Need Santa mugs? They’re $1 each. Santa napkin rings? Four for $2. Here is a group of carolers to stand on a festive table. If you need a table for your holiday dinner, there are several in stock right now, with chairs. A candy cupboard is $75. There are books, Christmas CDs and ornaments.

The fun of shopping here is you never know what you might find. And the store accepts credit cards.

Second Glance is always looking for volunteers. For more information, stop in to the store at 265 Main St., West Harwich during regular shopping hours of Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or call 508-432-0636.  For information on making donations, visit for hours. Furniture donations need to be approved through Second Glance.

Helping Neighbors Donors


Peter Mullen in honor of Jim and Bill

Mr. and Mrs. James P. Conley

Craig Chadwick and Debra Guerard

Kathie and Steve Curran


R.T. Montbach, DMD

Tim, Jenny, Rowan and Lir Wood

Judith Jaffe


Jeffrey and Lisa Colby

Colin and Jane Stevenson

Paul and Michele Hudon

Charlotta and John Reynders


Rellan and Susan Monson

The Sheeran Family

In Memory of Ingrid Clouther, Steve's schatz

Julia Marsh, in honor of Joanne T. Bergquist