Thrifty Deals in Sussex

Dinner setting for 8 at Unfinished Business

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”. While you may not have a wedding around the bend, you can borrow this little ditty for your next jaunt around our area’s many thrift shops.  

And what is the difference between antique shops and thrift shops? Since there are plenty of both scattered among Delaware Coastal towns, we’ll start with a few definitions:

  • Collectibles are items from 20-99 years old that are worth more than the originally purchased price. Just based on inflation, that could apply to a wide range of products.  
  • Antiques are collectibles that are at least 100 years old.
  • While Vintage pertains to culturally significant items that are “worthy” of being collected (enough people like them to make them considered attractive again)
Patrick Malloy of Unfinished Business

Antique dealers know that they might discover unique finds in any of those categories at local thrift shops. So many browse and even buy items of interest you can then find in their shops at a higher price.  While thrift shops can afford to keep prices low because the inventory is donated. For your first three to peruse – Unfinished Business, Beebe Treasure Chest and New Life – are clustered just below and above the Midway shopping center off Coastal Highway.  

Privately-owned Unfinished Business is housed in the Storage Solutions building behind Panera Bread. Community advocate Lynne Maloy founded the shop after retirement. Her vision included helping to fund various organizations such as Camp Rehoboth, Milton Historical Society, Delaware Hospice and the Rehoboth Library. Maloy had a long history of helping to fund or create various non-profit groups but she lost her battle with cancer in late 2021. Now her husband Patrick and daughter Allie carry on the shops mission “to help serve the residents of Sussex County with gently used clothing, furniture and household items at reduced rates”. The Maloys have contributed thousands of dollars to their associated charities and non-profits.  

Nancy Pallidino and Wendell Alford at Beebe Treasure Chest

The shop is beautifully merchandised with items that are brand-spanking new or lovingly maintained. You can get CD, DVD or VHS players for those collections from yesteryear, a trophy to use as a gag gift or a drone to “spy” on the neighbors.  

A parking lot or two up the road in the Midway Center is Beebe’s Treasure Chest Thrift Shop. The layout looks more like a grocery story with rows of shelves teeming with dinner wear sets, kitchen appliances, hangers, and even a display rack of greeting cards. One benefactor donated an entire collection of “collectable” dolls.  

The store is staffed by an array of volunteers from the Beebe Medical Center Auxiliary headed by current president Wendall Alford. According to Alford, shop sales have enabled the Auxiliary to provide more than $5.5 million dollars to the medical center for use in purchasing “life-sustaining equipment” during its 13 years of existence.  

Auxiliary volunteers, mostly retirees, also staff the medical center’s two gift shops and all proceeds go to hospital equipment and supplies. Alford said they are looking for new recruits.  

Shopper at Beebe’s Treasure Chest

New Life Thrift Shop, behind, the Jiffy Lube, carries many of the same products as Unfinished Business and Beebe but its vast space allows for even more merchandise in each category. In fact, New Life is housed in two buildings and this shop probably has the best selection of furniture among the three. And, what partially sets it apart is its vast collection of Christmas ornaments and wreaths plus its periodic special sale days when selected items might be reduced 50 percent off on already very affordable prices.  

By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.  

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