|Never mind the belfry. There's BATS in the barn.|
In traveling the winding curves of Tomlinson Road in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, it would be easy to dismiss this building as a barn belonging to an old orchard on the grounds of the Bryn Athyn Church.
But this is what is lovingly known as BATS.
This is the Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop. And this barn of secondhand treasures has been a fixture in this tightly knit community for 17 years. Yet somehow, I had not been there until just a few short days ago.
After stepping inside for the first time, I greeted one of the employees to seek permission for snapping a few photos. And much to my surprise, both the co-manager and manager were eager to give me an inside look of what BATS truly means to both the shoppers and staff.
Between taking photos of the shelves, displays and decor and talking shop with Nina Finkeldey, the manager of the Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop, I spent upwards of 90 minutes in total awe of my surroundings.
There was kitsch. There was vintage. And there was a passion for the business that was palpable. And as I learned from Nina, BATS is a shared and collaborative passion among its 12 employees and 190 volunteers. The proceeds may benefit the Bryn Athyn Church, but the benefits are beyond mere monetary value. Nina was quick to note that BATS serves the community first and acts as a fundraiser second.
A lot of love, a lot of creativity and a whole lot of hard labor has gone into to make this thrift shop into something more than just your average Goodwill. And there's much more on the horizon for this secondhand wonderland. More than just a retail environment, BATS serves as an antiques gallery, with records, bicycles, movie posters, hardware and more hanging from every nook and cranny.
These thoughtfully arranged display pieces within BATS are marked "NFS." What I would typically dread as a vintage-seeking thrifter, I've come to admire. Nina explained that these pieces are not for sale so that all might see and appreciate them. These vintage vignettes give the already historic barn added nostalgic charm. And who can complain about stepping into a time capsule?
Just admire the view. Snap a photo. Be a little jealous and move along. There's 6000 square feet to explore, after all.
And after a friendly exchange between management, some browsing with fellow shoppers and a lot of handshaking with the volunteer staff, I can officially endorse The Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop as one the must-see secondhand stores in all of Pennsylvania.
Of course I couldn't help but snatch up a few vintage bargains during my BATS exploration. But that's for another post.
The Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop is located at 510 Tomlinson Road, P.O. Box 277 Bryn Athyn, PA 19009. For announcements of sales and future thrift happenings, stop by the Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop Facebook page.