Shopping With Your Heart


housing-works-by-tribeca-citizenYou could hardly miss the spiffy new Housing Works store on Warren Street, between West Broadway and Greenwich Street: Huge pink vinyl decals on its façade scream, “Grand Opening!” Why not be loud and proud? Since its founding nineteen years ago, Housing Works has provided housing, medical and mental-health care, meals, and job training to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers with HIV and AIDS. If you think you’re not the kind of person who shops in thrift stores, you might want to give the new Housing Works a chance—it really is a cut above. As for that signage, it was designed by Housing Works’ marketing team. “We never want to take it off because it’s so cool!” says Naomi Bergknoff, the organization’s director of stores. She was kind enough to answer a few other questions….

What exactly do you want and not want when it comes to donations? Would a never-used dog toy (tags attached) be of interest?
We want everything (except children’s toys or clothing)! Any items with the tags still on are great. We’re also in need of gently used clothing, accessories, housewares, books, art, and jewelry. For free furniture pick up, call 212-366-0820.

What are the strangest donations Housing Works has ever received?
We’ve received a swing, an antique toilet, sleds, a tractor….

Have you ever found anything extremely valuable inadvertently tucked inside a pocket or a piece of furniture?
A few years ago, a donor called because his boyfriend donated a pair of shoes that had his mother’s diamond ring inside the toe (for safekeeping). Fortunately, we got it back to him. Sometimes we get furniture with clothing still inside the drawers, or very old photographs.

What’s the most expensive item ever sold at a Housing Works store?
In our window auction we often have rare art that goes for thousands ( In the store, the most expensive item tends to be jewelry or furniture. We once sold a diamond and gold necklace for $3,500.

How much money does the average store earn in a given year?
The average is about a million a year.

Is the Tribeca store looking for volunteers?
Yes! The Tribeca store is largely staffed by volunteers. We’d love people of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in helping a great cause, can make a four-hour-a-week commitment, and enjoy retail. For more information, visit

Any tips for finding the best deals?
An online auction for the Tribeca store launches this month, and in June, we’ll be starting an Early Bird Special one Saturday a month, with a 40 percent off sale.




Comments are closed.