You may or may not have heard of Pennyworth Thrift, a small, unassuming thrift store on Bonifant St. At 61 years old, Pennyworth has a long history, but only about 2 years in its current location. Prior, the space had been a research lab, hardware store, a thrift shop and then a black box theater, before being leased by Grace Episcopal Church. Fenton Street Market often holds their Crafty Hour there, and you can always find them active on Facebook and Twitter, but the nondescript shop is a big part of the community. In Spring, store manager, Marilyn Seitz sat down for an interview to talk about herself and the store that she oversees.
Community means a lot to Marilyn, and Pennyworth affords both a place in the greater community, as well as an internal community amongst the all-volunteer staff and the regular clientele.
“Luckily, I have a great crew of volunteers. A lot of them are from the church. A lot of them are from the neighborhood. Some of our former customers volunteer.”
As a member of Grace Episcopal Church, Marilyn recounted several stories of using prayer to help overcome obstacles to opening the current location. Pennyworth reflects the values of the church in the various ways that it gives back to the community, not just locally, but internationally.
“All of our money goes to the Grace Church ministries. 10% goes to national outreach, Habitat for Humanity, the local fire department and volunteer, and things like that. We have a whole list of organizations that we give to. ”
Beyond the opportunity to give back to the community, Pennyworth also offers an opportunity for green living by having a place to donate goods, rather than throwing them in the trash.
“All of the things we have in the shop are donations. We ask for clean, gently used clothing, small household items that are working, and obviously books, shoes, tapes.”
Marilyn practices what she preaches, as well, as not only a manager of the shop, but a customer, as well.
“Everything I have on except my shoes are from Pennyworth.”
Besides frequenting Pennyworth, she also gets out into the community to patronize her neighbors and other local businesses.
“I love the little crepe place [Fenton Cafe]… Kefa Cafe is the soul of the community… We try to be active with Impact Silver Spring, which I think is a wonderful organization.”
A long time resident of Silver Spring, Marilyn was on the Silver Spring Citizen’s Advisory Board for 7 years. Her innate sense of social responsibility intertwines with her love of the city. That drives her giving.
“We lived here in the early 70s in Summit Hills. Silver Spring was very dynamic at that time… We moved back to Silver Spring because we love the area.”
Having seen the “Old Silver Spring” and the “New Silver Spring”, Marilyn is excited about the changes.
“[Silver Spring] has gotten so much better, so much more vibrant.”
That being said, she does have concerns about the direction in which development is happening, especially where it concerns Pennyworth and other small, local businesses. To that end, she’s sourced that same community to try and address those issues head-on.
“[The Purple Line] is really going to impact our parking… It’s been great to get everybody together to work together to try and keep Bonifant an active street, whether we get a Purple Line or what happens.”
She also has a now-commonly heard complaint:
“The transit center.”
Overall, it’s clear that Marilyn loves Silver Spring for the place that she has in the community, as well as the place Pennyworth has filled in the city. From the interaction she has with customers, to volunteers, to neighbors and fellow businesses, she engages all with an open heart.
“It’s a labor of love for all of us.”