As I mentioned in a previous post, for many years it was my job to create a safe haven and engaging curriculum for 60 to 100 students each week at an after school literacy program for at-risk youth. It was my goal to tap into their full potential: it was an easy task.

The children were determined to break the cycle of poverty by doing their very best in school so that they could go on to college and become successful teachers, engineers, architects. At a young age, my students learned to make wise decisions, preferring to study rather than play. Attending the tutoring sessions diligently each day was a choice: a choice to create a brighter future.

What does all of this have to do with shopping? Well, with all of this in mind, it was my goal to reward their efforts not only throughout the year, but during the holiday season as well – a time when many of my students would not receive a gift at home. I was determined each year to throw a whopper of a holiday party. I recruited anyone with a pulse to become a sponsor for the children’s wish lists.

At the very last Christmas party I organized, I had imagined the transformation of our drab gymnasium into a temporary winter wonderland. It was almost time to celebrate: a generous heart had donated a tree, the gifts were wrapped, the food ordered, and the gym, well, it still looked like a gym. This is when I remembered 2nd Chance Shop (808 Harrison Street).

In 2007, I happened upon the 2nd Chance Shop purely by, umm, chance. Directly inline after my love of children is my love of animals. I have plotted and planned for the day when I have a whole pack of furry friends. I’ll name them after favorite book characters and hallowed authors: Truman, Twain, and Von (short for Vonnegut). The only problem is, my building doesn’t allow animals. Well, let me rephrase that: my landlords, Erol and Cheryl, two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, don’t allow animals in our building (I’m hoping they’ll read this and change their minds).

I did some research and learned one can volunteer at the Animal Care League in Oak Park. I thought volunteering might satiate my desire to adopt a cute and cuddly critter.

I imagined brazen barking, tails wagging wildly, and that undeniable smell of canine. Upon entering Animal Care League’s 2nd Chance Shop, I quickly realized I had stumbled into another establishment altogether: a thrift shop, but a really special thrift shop. You get to shop while surrounded by some great company, aside from the friendly staff, that is; four-legged felines awaiting a new home perch patiently here and there.

All sales at 2nd Chance Shop benefit the Animal Care League. You can find new merchandise as well as gently used items: vintage jewelry, artwork, antiques, retro and modern clothing and purses, small furniture, kitchenware, music, books, and oodles of pet products. 

And this is exactly where I headed when I needed decorations to complete the look for the impending holiday festivities. Tablecloths, tree ornaments, garland, wreaths, yep, they’ve got it. The party was pure magic. If you’re on a budget or you simply love to scope out a superb deal, you’ll find lots to love at 2nd Chance Shop.

Have you shopped at 2nd Chance Shop? Tell us about your great find. Have you adopted a pet from the Animal Care League? If so, tell us about your new family member and the name you selected.

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