Monkey Business closure explained

Green Tree Community Health Foundation is the owner of Monkey Business, the consignment thrift shop which was started by the Chestnut Hill Hospital Auxiliary 57 years ago. After continuing to lose money for the last several years and after extensive efforts to find an alternative solution, we have regretfully concluded that Monkey Business must close. Our last business day is June 30.

The foundation board agonized over this decision and actually decided in December of 2009 that the shop should close in June of 2010. However, because of concerns raised by Monkey Business’s many volunteers, the board reconsidered and laid out a plan whereby the shop would be expected to net $4,000 per year to stay open. Unfortunately, that goal has not been met.  Instead, sales have continued to decline.

During this period, the foundation sought to identify other not-for-profit organizations in the Chestnut Hill area which might be interested in taking over Monkey Business. We were prepared to simply give the business away to another charity.

We presented our financials to nine different charities, one of which has a consignment store, five of which are in Chestnut Hill, and most of which are our own grantees. After studying the financials and looking at the opportunities available, all declined our offer.

We now find ourselves struggling with a fiduciary responsibility to be true to our mission– to improve the health status of the members of our community through our grant making programs – and a need to subsidize the costs of Monkey Business. We simply cannot compromise our mission by continuing to underwrite the shop.

In reaching this decision, we considered whether providing Monkey Business, a consignment store in Chestnut Hill, was a benefit to the community. It certainly was for much of its long history. However, today there are a number of consignment stores in Chestnut Hill providing similar services.

To ensure that the community has access to a place where serviceable clothing can be recycled and where reasonably priced clothing can be purchased, we will continue to operate the Green Tree Thrift Shop, located behind the Women’s Center on the campus of Chestnut Hill Hospital.

We appreciate the disappointment that this decision may generate, especially among Monkey Business volunteers, paid employees, customers and supporters.

We are deeply grateful for the work of our volunteers and paid staff. We are equally grateful to our landlord, Sue Haber, who has kept the rent reasonably priced in recognition of the shop’s mission. Fifty-seven years of service to the community is a record of real distinction and we honor the generosity and caring that made it possible.

Cheryl Wade
Chair, Green Tree Community Health Foundation

Where’s the Fro-yo?

I have lived in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy since 1973 and have seen the changes in our town, certainly the best is now we have choices of good restaurants. The not so good changes are the loss of so many charming stores that have been replaced by banks and manicure salons – it seems we have one on almost  every block.

What is driving me crazy is that I have to drive to Manayunk to get some good quality soft frozen yogurt. These stores have become the new craze in the country, not as fattening as ice cream and without the chemicals in the traditional soft serve ice cream. Another new great place is Sweet Greens in Ardmore and University City. They have a real healthy organic salad bar and soft serve organic yogurt for dessert. What could be better.

Why can’t we attract more of these healthy venues? I have been told that a yogurt place is coming but I don’t see anything on the Avenue. I will keep my fingers crossed and be there if it happens. I just hope they get here before the summer is over.

Lisa Brownstein
Mt. Airy

There are more affordable homes in Chestnut Hill

In this week’s editorial article, “Are we Reaching the Tipping Point?” it says, “In Chestnut Hill, where the average home sale price is nearly $900,000, AVI is suddenly a local issue.”

While the average price is accurate, the median home price is less, meaning there are more affordable homes in the market. As per, the local website that we Realtors use to enter our listings into and track what properties sell for, in the period of June 2011 through May 2012, there were 82 residential properties that sold for a median price of $482,965.  In the calendar year 2011, the median property sold for $534,713.  As of this calendar year, the median property has settled for $432,260.

The difference between this year and last has to do with more activity in the upper end of the market last year versus what has been recorded so far this year.  Last year there were 33 properties that sold for $500,000.  This year 26 have settled below $500,000 and only six have settled above.  But of the 17 pending sales that have yet to settle, seven are above $500,000.

Once we get into August, the median sales price for the year will rise, but there are homes well below the $900,000 average reported. I thought it was important  to share this to be factual and also so we don’t  scare away anyone who might have thought twice about buying a home in the area after reading the editorial.

Rich McIllhenny


Regarding: “Camped out at the coffee shop with laptops and lattes: The new local workplace”

We need a coworking space in Chestnut Hill like the one they have in Old City. has 35 desks, two conference rooms, free WiFi, and free coffee (supplied by a local roaster). Full time desks are $275 a month, three days a week $175, or $25 for the day…

From their website:

“Independents Hall is a coworking space and community in Philadelphia. We are designers, developers, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, educators, small business owners, telecommuters, marketers, videographers, game developers, and more.

“The common thread is this: We all know that we’re happier and more productive together than alone.”