Window Shopping: Discovery Shop

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

When people hear the Discovery Shop is associated with the American Cancer Society, they usually assume the store carries cancer-related products.

Instead, merchandise is mostly men's and women's clothing, furniture and collectibles that come in as donations. The proceeds from each purchase go directly to the American Cancer Society for education, research and programs.

Store manager Gayle Musick calls the Upper Arlington store "Columbus' best-kept secret."

The store is staffed entirely by volunteers - 64 of them - under Musick's direction. And while many of the shoppers and donors have a connection to cancer and appreciate the store's mission, plenty just find it a good place to pick up, say, jewelry or a bookshelf.

"It's a unique shopping experience," she said. "We have customers that come every day, just to see what's new."

Columbus' Discovery Shop is the most profitable of eight in the state, and it's been operating out of the same Kenny Road plaza location for 15 years.

New merchandise is stored and donations are sorted in the back half of the store, where staffers separate things into categories - like cashmere sweaters or evening wear - then put them all out on the floor together.

This planned approach is much different from the usual scattered resale store, and it gives the Discovery Shop a more retail-like feel.

Musick and her volunteers cherry-pick donations as they come in, grabbing what makes sense for the "upscale resale" shop. Everything else is earmarked for organizations like the Homeless Families Foundation or the regular customer who collects blankets to distribute through her church - whatever charity might best make use of an item, Musick said.

"There are so many places that use what we can't at the store," she said. "We try to say that we're very good stewards of what we're given."

During a recent visit, donations streamed regularly through the doors, including things like a collection of porcelain dolls and boxes of cookbooks. Plenty of items come in with the tags still on them, and many donors are people with deceased loved ones who had requested their belongings go to the Discovery Shop.

That means decades-old Yves Saint Laurent pumps and mint-condition fur coats are just waiting to be discovered, along with designer dish sets and handbags priced to move.

Say you got it for making a donation to the American Cancer Society.

Discovery Shop

1198 Kenny Centre Mall, Upper Arlington


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