Barbara Kenyon will celebrate her late grandmother’s birthday on Sunday, May 1, with the grand opening of her new Forget-Me-Not Shoppe in Millville.
It will be an upscale resale boutique, for profit but carrying the “charity” designation. As such, Kenyon said she had to donate a certain percentage of her profits — in her case, to the Delaware Valley chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association (Wilmington, Del.) — but she planned to give as a much as she could beyond the requirements.
Her grandmother, Ethel Zatto, passed away after a long fight with the disease in 1988, and Kenyon was there through the end.
“We took turns,” she recalled. “It took my mother, my sister and myself to take care of her.” And Zatto needed it, those last three years.
“She was no trouble,” Kenyon said — unlike some with Alzheimer’s, her grandmother hadn’t suffered through personality change, or become abusive or violent, or endlessly chant meaningless phrases.
However, she did need care round the clock, and that surely tried her family’s endurance. “I know how hard it is,” she said.
As Kenyon pointed out, their experience was far from unique — the Delaware Valley chapter (Delaware, south Jersey, and southeastern Pennsylvania) serves 268,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
She noted Delaware’s number one ranking with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for places to retire, and the possibility of increasing need for services in the future.
The Forget-Me-Not Shoppe will be the first charity store in the state to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. “I saw a need for this, and I bring a lot of retail experience, and experience working with charities,” Kenyon said.
Originally from Long Island, N.Y., her family eventually decided they’d had enough of New York winters and moved to Florida. She ran a similar shop in West Palm Beach, to benefit the Leukemia society, and helped coordinate fundraising events for the American Red Cross, the American Kidney Foundation and the American Heart Association.
She returned northward with her sister in 1999, and Kenyon’s fiancé, Robert, followed shortly thereafter. They married last year, at St. Mary’s Star by the Sea (Ocean City, Md.).
Kenyon said she’d been managing retail shops at the Rehoboth outlets since she moved up to Delaware, but her heart just wasn’t in it. “The outlets are fine, but I felt like I was just making money for huge companies that didn’t really need it,” she said.
She held onto her plans for the Forget-Me-Not Shoppe, and with recent support from a local philanthropist (who she said wished to remain anonymous), those plans have suddenly come to fruition.
The 800-square-foot shop will take up the front portion of the former Millville Town Peddler, across from Al Casapulla’s and Michael McCarthy Stones.
Kenyon plans to feature new and “gently used” furnishings, décor and accessories, jewelry and vintage clothing, with some opportunities for consignment. Store hours will be everyday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The grand opening celebration is scheduled for Sunday, May 1. Kenyon said Miss Delaware 2004, Linda Kurtz, is slated to make an appearance (her platform is Alzheimer’s awareness). Representatives from the Alzheimer’s Association are also scheduled to be on hand, and Kenyon said she hoped the shop would give locals an opportunity to learn more about Alzheimer’s, and get involved.
For more information about the Forget-Me-Not Shoppe, call 539-0535.