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Annette Gerard: Selling it Like it is

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Need some candy or a card? Forgot to buy laundry detergent? Or would you like Judaica for a Jewish holiday?

Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Stop N’ Shop has you covered.

“We have a tremendous number of items for sale, including jewelry,” said Annette Gerard, 96, who has managed the Stop N’ Shop with the help of volunteers for the past five years, and volunteered at the store for seven years prior. “We have a few connections who donate items or give us stuff at cost, and we have a good amount of stock now.”

No one can quite remember when the Stop N’ Shop officially opened. But Facilities Manager Tammy Heard believes the store began around 20 years ago. The space used to house a coffee bar for residents.

Today, the Stop N’ Shop is open four days a week (Monday through Thursday) from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Each day, different volunteers help residents and their families ring up their purchases.

“It’s hard to know what might sell on any given day,” said Annette. “Sometimes, people will come in and see candy in the front of the display that reminds them of their childhood. It can be weeks before I sell laundry detergent and then three people will come in on the same day and clear out the shelf.”

Monday volunteer Margaret Gotesman (pictured at left with Annette) is the store buyer. “She comes in on Monday, looks around, takes inventory, and sees what we need,” said Annette. “She knows what sells and then goes out to shop.  The following Monday, she brings in new items, puts on a price, and then it’s out for sale.”

Two volunteers–Barbara Rudolph (Tuesdays) and Marilyn Soulas (Wednesdays)— had mothers’ living at Rose Schnitzer Manor and volunteered to help Annette even after their family members passed. Elaine Salburg is a friend of Marilyn and Margaret and tackles Thursdays. Annette fills in on the days her volunteers have timing conflicts. All monies raised go to the Cedar Sinai Park Foundation.

“The four volunteers are wonderful,” said Annette. “We wouldn’t be open without them.”

Annette and her husband, Melvin, lived in Queens, New York, for 60 years. Melvin was an engineer and started a business designing equipment in 1965. The pair worked out of the family home, and Annette became the bookkeeper and secretary.

When Melvin died, Annette moved to Oregon after a few years and selected Rose Schnitzer Manor because she has four grandchildren and five great grandchildren in Portland.

“I like it here,” said Annette. “They take good care of us. They really do. The staff is wonderful. And the residents are very nice. And there’s a lot of activities.”

The walls in Annette’s apartment are filled with art creations: pictures in 3-dimension and others with intricately glued watch parts. Yarn lays on the sofa, waiting for Annette to turn it into a hat or scarf (Annette has donated nearly 4600 hats and scarves to charity, including Ukraine support groups).

“I make a hat every day while I watch television,” said Annette.

With her 97th birthday coming up in a few months, Annette has been training her heir apparent to coordinate the Stop N’ Shop books. There’s no firm date on when the transition is official, but store procedures have been drafted and systems already passed on.

“Somebody needs to do the bookkeeping,” said Annette. “I like the socializing with the customers. So, I’ll be here until I’m not needed any more.”

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