While new businesses and local eateries pop up all around it, the First Presbyterian Resale Shop in Downtown Valparaiso has commanded its small space in the same building for decades. Started during World War II in 1942 as a way to give back to the community during a time of struggle, the resale shop—owned and operated by First Presbyterian Church of Valparaiso—has been a pillar for the community and its members looking for an incredible find.
“We initially were in a small building at an old church where you can still see a plaque dedicated to the shop,” said Pam Skaltsas, store manager, whose father volunteered with the shop as well. “Then we moved to the building where Pikk’s Tavern is now before settling here at 7 Lincolnway over 20 years ago.”
The shop, which just recently reopened after a few weeks of preparation for spring and summer, sells gently used clothing, household items, toys, entertainment, and more. The windows, decorated for every holiday and season, give passerby just an idea of the kinds of things that can be found in it. From vintage toys to casual and formal clothing, to Easter decorations, to fine china and kitchenware -- it’s the kind of shop people can get lost in, happily.
“People walk in and immediately they can tell there is a feel to this shop,” Skaltsas said. “We work hard to keep the shop clean and welcoming to everyone who comes in. It’s exciting, there are a lot of treasures here.”
The shop is supported by the community by it not only by being 100% volunteer-run but also by the donations it receives.
“Everything we sell is donated to us by the community,” Skaltsas said. “We try our hardest to make sure nothing goes to waste here. If we don’t think it will sell at the store, there are a ton of organizations we will give the items to. We just recently gave a truckload of donations we didn’t have room for to Blessings of Northwest Indiana. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of the community this past year, and we wanted to share that.”
It’s easy to see why the community’s generosity turned its attention to the resale shop. While the pandemic had a stark influence on the Region, people were still looking for organizations whose good deeds and support of the community would continue to have a strong impact. Most recently, the shop was a key donor to VNA of Northwest Indiana to help fund a new sign for the hospice and palliative care center in Valparaiso after their old sign was damaged by wind and bad weather. Back in 2019, the shop also donated over $7,000 to VNA and was a major supporter of VNA’s annual gala in 2019, all to support its efforts to provide the best days possible for those entering hospice and palliative care.
VNA encourages families and staff to donate their items to the shop, knowing just how important the work they do is. From there, it’s a cycle that always repeats, a continuation of a decades-long partnership where First Presbyterian Resale Shop has been an established donor to VNA and the people it serves.
The shop’s impact on the community has only grown with the pandemic. Aside from the pandemic highlighting an even greater need for household essentials, community support and philanthropy within Porter County was also a need that has a visual impact.
“Despite the hardships we faced because of COVID-19, like having to shut down for about two months at the start, we had one of our best years,” Skaltsas said. “At the end of 2020, we donated a record $43,000 to organizations in the area that really needed that support.”
Along with donating to VNA, the shop also donates all proceeds to the following nonprofits and charities: Brazilian Mission; Christmas for the Elderly; Presbyterian Women of Wabash Valley; Geneva Center Church Camp; Boys & Girls Clubs; Caring Place Battered Women’s Shelter; Christian Food Pantry; Moraine House Men’s Shelter; Red Cross of Porter County; Troop 920 Boy Scouts; Alice’s House; Heifer International; Peabody Retirement Home; and the Salvation Army.
“We were founded with the mission of giving everyone in the community a little help,” Skaltsas said. “For us, for everyone who volunteers here, we just enjoy doing this work. We know that the money is going to the community, the items are coming from the community, and our shoppers are from the community. Everybody is helping each other one way or another.”
The First Presbyterian Resale Shop is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and is currently accepting cash only.
For more information about the First Presbyterian Resale Shop, visit its website at http://www.firstpresbyterianresale.com/.