by Jennifer Katz
This year marks the 55th anniversary of Monkey Business, the thrift shop with a mission, located just off the Avenue behind Cosimo’s Pizza Café. It also marks Rose Malley’s tenth year as manager.

“It’s the best position I’ve ever had,” said Malley, who spent 22 years a professional potter and previously worked as administrative assistant.

In 1955, Monkey Business was a cute name for a serious endeavor. It was started mainly by a group of women who were married to doctors Chestnut Hill Hospital.

The idea was to sell previously worn clothing and donate the proceeds to the hospital. When the hospital was sold to a for-profit company 2005, the store’s proceeds were redirected to the newly established Green Tree Community Health Foundation, which supports community health programs in the area.

In an average year – and, unfortunately, the last few have not been average – the store makes approximately $80,000 in sales. Malley attributes much of the store’s success to two major factors. First and foremost are the volunteers, some of whom have been there since 1955.

Delores Metz, who became a volunteer shortly after the shop opened in 1955, said it’s the people that have kept her involved all these years.

“It’s fun to work up here,” she said.

“The people are nice to work with.”

Anne Torrey, a 16-year volunteer, worked in retail in the “real world” for many years. She brought her talent for English smocking, a type of stitching on children’s dresses and sweaters, to the store. Her items sell for around $30 apiece and are among the stores most popular offerings.

The second reason the store has been successful is its inventory, Malley said. Monkey Business is a consignment shop. Clients receive 50 percent of the profit on any given item. It has motivated many in the community to allow Monkey Business to sell some pretty expensive stuff.

During a recent weekday visit, volunteers were busy pricing new merchandise. They usually price between 125 and 150 items a day.

On this particular morning they were hanging up suits from Bergdorf Goodman, Dolce and Gabana pants, a dress from St. John and more from Eileen Fisher.

The clientele has come to rely on such finds, Malley said.

“We have a lot of repeat customers, a lot of people have been shopping here since the early ’60s,” she said.

Monkey Business is located at 8624 B Germantown Ave., and is open Monday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. For information on how to consign or to volunteer, call 215-248-1835.