Furnished with Love opens in West Long Branch

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By VASHTI HARRIS
Staff Writer

WEST LONG BRANCH-Decked out with everything from couches to paintings, the non-profit organization Love Thy Neighbor, formally known as Love Inc., held a pre-grand opening party on May 18 to introduce its second “Furnished With Love” store.

The new store opened on May 19 at 175 Locust Ave.

Furnished With Love is a used retail furniture store that was started in 1997. It has an assortment of used furniture and housewares at reasonable prices. Not only does the store accept donations of furniture and housewares, it also donates them to those in need, according to information provided by Love Thy Neighbor.

In 2016, Furnished with Love gave out more than $10,000 worth of free furniture and $6,000 worth of new mattresses and box springs to people verified to be in need, according to Carolyn Eyerman, Love Thy Neighbor’s executive director.

“We got so much furniture that the square footage that we had in our old store wouldn’t fit what we had and things were being piled on top of each other so [people] could not see what we had and the quality [items] that we get is amazing because we are well connected with a lot of nice communities. We decided that West Long Branch would be a perfect avenue for an additional store and hopefully if it does well it will allow us to give more free furniture to more people in need,” Eyerman said.

This year, the organization’s total number of requests that it served through all of its programs was 3,310 and the total financial support it gave to those in need was $524,330, according to information provided by Love Thy Neighbor.

“[The organization] started out first as a community clearing house, because the left hand did not know what the right was doing. One church might be getting the same call from somebody in need as another church down the block and they didn’t know, so we create a database of all the services and then everybody can call us. We act as a bridge from the spiritual community to the agencies, that way we have all the knowledge of what’s being done around the county and there is no duplication of services,” Eyerman said.

The organization has been established since 1994 and its first Furnished With Love store is currently in Long Branch, according to Eyerman.

“[The organization] started off as a screening tool for the church community and for agencies and from there we did rental assistance and from there we went to furniture, because people started calling us wanting to donate furniture. We [then] looked into what was being done and the Salvation Army does a wonderful job, but all their furniture goes to urban areas, nobody was doing it in the county,” Eyerman said. “When we started [Furnished With Love] in 1997, because we noticed that no one else was serving people in the county, so we started it, I got a grant for a truck and renovations for the store in Long Branch and because we have been known for a while we get such wonderful things, so we decide to take a chance and move on to another location.”

Beside its Furniture With Love stores, the organization also has several other programs and services that include: Care Giving Friends, Christmas Connect, Cuts for Christ, ClearingHouse, Heavenly Hail Out, and Outreach Ministry, according to information provided by the organization.

The organization opened its second Furnished With Love store to the public on May 19, according to Eyerman.

“It’s a big step for us anytime an entity expands, it’s a risk [because] the community has to embrace you, customers has to embrace, so it’s a risk but we were ready for it. We think that this store is going to enhance our sales, more people will come in and they should know that this is some of the best furniture they will find anywhere. I would put us up against any furniture store in the area,” Declan O’Scanlon, board president, for Love Thy Neighbor said.

O’Scanlon said the proceeds of the organization’s sales will go toward helping people in need.

“A lot of [the items are] brand new from all over Monmouth County and it’s exciting and these increases in sales folks can come in buy items from here, save money and get great furniture and the money they spend will help us help other people in the community, so it’s a win across the boards. We also are also a faith based organization so we will score points with God as well so will throw that collateral benefit and it’s a pleasure to be part of. I have been apart of [the organization] for about 15 to 20 years and its just a wonderful organization to be a part of,” O’Scanlon said.

West Long Branch Mayor Janet W. Tucci attended the pre-grand opening party and give a brief speech embracing the new store.

“I welcome them with open hands, I think this is amazing and the quality of the furniture they have here and the way it is displayed, I wish them lots of success at their new address,” Tucci.

For more information about Love Thy Neighbor and how to donate or volunteer visit www.lovethyneighbornj.org or call 732-222-1923.

Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].