The Examiner

The Benefit Shop Begins New Chapter With Move to Mt. Kisco

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Pam Stone, fourth from right, is joined at The Benefit Shop by staff and volunteers.
Pam Stone, fourth from right, is joined at The Benefit Shop by staff and volunteers.

By Andrew Vitelli

A Rolls Royce, a set of 18th century carnival heads, a $56,000 diamond ring, a nine-foot Chinese terracotta warrior and a live pig are among the thousands of items which have passed through The Benefit Shop.

Last week, items in the shop ranged from sofas and chairs to paintings and signed sports memorabilia. A nonprofit auction house, The Benefit Shop has found a niche taking and auctioning off donated items in which other auction houses have no interest.

“Christie’s [Auction House] will come in and say ‘Yes, we’ll sell that piece of art for you,’” said Pam Stone, the shop’s founder and owner. “I’ll come in and say, ‘I’m coming in with a truck. I’ll take everything.’”

Stone, a Bedford resident, opened The Benefit Shop in 2011 after a 22-year career on Wall Street. She was looking to do something rewarding for herself and her community and had been going to estate sales since she was a child.

“Some people like to play golf to relax on the weekends,” Stone said. “Not me. I like to go to antique shows, thrift shops, estate sales, flea markets.”

Wondering what happened to all the items that weren’t sold at these sales, Stone saw both a business opportunity and the chance to prevent these worthwhile items from going to the dumpster. In 2009, she partnered with Northern Westchester Hospital, taking donated items and selling them, with the proceeds benefiting the hospital and the donor receiving a tax deduction.

Two years later she set out on her own, opening The Benefit Shop in Bedford with a similar business model, with proceeds benefiting a range of charities.

Initially, it only accepted donated items. Many donors, though, were also looking for a way to sell certain pieces, and Stone decided to begin accepting these items as consignments, auctioning them off and giving a portion of the proceeds to the seller. Beth Romski, a longtime friend of Stone, began helping her shortly after making the transition.

“It was a matter of looking at the software, seeing what it was capable of and how to use it to our best advantage,” Romski recalled. “She was using some of it, but she wasn’t using as many facets as were available to inventory as quickly or as efficiently and get it all up in a timely manner.”

Stone opened a second location in Mount Kisco, which became an auction gallery. Increasingly, the business shifted online, which now accounts for 90 percent of the sales. As a result, it is less important for The Benefit Shop to have a large, open showroom since new items can now be photographed and stacked. This month, the shop moved to a new, smaller location on Kisco Avenue.

During the auctions, Stone serves as the auctioneer on location, high chair and all, while other staff and volunteers simultaneously monitor bids made on the website. The next auction will be held Sept. 14, with about four auctions a month thereafter.

There are certainly challenges to the job. Auctions are done by honor system, Stone explained, and occasionally a winning bidder gets buyer’s remorse and backs out.

“We have heard every excuse you can think of,” she said, saying around 3 percent of winning bidders end up reneging. “Every week we hear, ‘My cat tiptoed across the keyboard. I didn’t mean to bid.’ And people think that’s a whole new story.”

But for Stone and her team, the good far outweighs the negative. For starters, there’s the wide range of organizations The Benefit Shop raises money for, including Northern Westchester Hospital, the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester, the SPCA of Westchester and Fox Lane High School.

And then there are the people, from across the globe, they get the chance to work with and the stories that have come out of it. In one instance, a Swedish diplomat donated a set of clay heads from an early carnival game, which was purchased by actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein. Someone else brought in a primate skull.

“We weren’t sure if it was human or not,” Stone admitted.

A Bedford resident even asked the shop to sell his pig, but being unfamiliar with livestock regulations Stone had to decline. Since opening the shop, Stone has shipped to purchasers in 43 countries.

“People love that,” Stone said. “They’re like, ‘Wow, my artwork is now hanging in someone’s living room in Australia.’”

The Benefit Shop is located at 185 Kisco Ave., Suite 201, in Mount Kisco. For more information, visit


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