Welcome to "I Am Collingswood," our newest recurring feature here on Patch.
Each week, we'll chat up the movers and shakers in town about who they are, what they're up to, and why Collingswood is the place for them to do what they love best.
If you know someone who should have their moment in the sun here in this space, send us a note.
To kick things off, we chatted with Morgan Robinson, the owner of Frugal Resale, wife to husband Eric, and mom to sons Angus, Porter, and Quinn. Morgan comes from a nonprofit background, and tries to infuse her own business with that giving spirit.
Patch: You've set up Frugal to be a business with a conscience. What are some of the ways in which your store tries to help?
Robinson: We give 2 percent of all gross sales directly [to a different charity every month]. Anything that doesn't sell, we give to New Visions Shelter in Camden, a heavily trafficked shelter. They need menswear more than anything, and most of the consignment shops in the area are only for women's clothes, so we are able to give them a lot of menswear that they need.
We've also given to local clothing drives. And there have been families in town who've had house fires, and we've given them bags of clothes and gift certificates to help them get back on their feet.
Patch: Why did you feel like Collingswood was the right place to put down roots and start a business?
Robinson: We moved here from Philadelphia, like so many people. We were sort of outgrowing our space. We were looking for better schools. We strongly considered moving to Havertown, but then we realized there's more diversity in Collingswood. As a mixed family, that's important.
And I don't think we realized how a great of a life we would even have. We live almost a more urban lifestyle here than we did in Philadelphia. Fairmount didn't have groceries and it didn't have gift shops; we had to drive a lot of places when we lived in Fairmount.
Patch: You're known for your knack for helping your customers put together The Perfect Outfit. How do you do it?
Robinson: Some of it is luck-based, but I have this mental catalog of most of the inventory, most of the time. When pieces come in, we can't help but match them up with their dream customers.
[Collingswood resident] Renee Papaneri the other day had a wedding to emcee. She's got great curves, but she doesn't like to shop, and she doesn't find things easily. And this is where the luck factor comes in. I had four dresses cut perfectly for her body, and she bought all four! Every one she came out in looked better than the last, and she was elated. It was a big deal; a big, big, deeply big deal for her.
Patch: You host ladies' nights that have a decidedly body-positive bent. What are your thoughts on how can fashion empower women?
Robinson: I like the idea that you can try all the clothes on without even the intent to buy anything, and maybe learn that you can wear something you didn't think you could wear. You try it on thinking it's absurd, and you get it on and think, “Oh my God, I could actually wear this.”
We all talk about our bodies, that's what we do, and it's okay to talk about them, but you don't have to be mean about it. It's the body you get. Years ago I decided I wouldn't refer to my thighs as “fat”; I refer to them as “generous.” And I know somebody who's a big, big fan!
Patch: You were a childbirth educator for 12 years. Are there ways in which that skill set comes in handy when you're running Frugal?
Robinson: The body image skills and the careful language; I definitely learned that as a childbirth educator, because you only use positive language with pregnant women. You only use language of power and language of strength and of normalcy and health. And it matters.
But I've been speaking that way in terms of clothing for a long time. If it's positive language about women, it doesn't have any realm or limitation. We're strong enough and capable enough, and our bodies are perfect for what they're supposed to be doing.