Kathleen Patten: Helping neighbors at Twice is Nice

Courtesy photo
Kathleen Patten (left) and Mary Crane are co-managers at Twice is Nice resale shop in Hinesburg.

By PHYL NEWBECK

Kathleen Patten talks about retiring, but it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon.

The 67-year-old Hinesburg resident is co-founder of Twice is Nice, a resale shop for women’s clothing and accessories. The shop supports the Hinesburg Community Resource Center and its work to provide assistance to people in the town Patten has called home since 1992.

Patten spent eight years on the resource center’s board and believed the nonprofit would benefit from having a reliable source of sustainable income.

She had plenty of experience with retail, having opened her first store in Rutland at the age of 19. Several years later, she opened an antique clothing store, and she and her husband Will also have owned two restaurants in Rutland.

Located on Route 116, Twice is Nice opened in a building that suffered a devastating fire.

“We started preparing in 2015 and we opened in 2016,” she said. “I liked the charm of the building and the central location. Everything was right although it is a small space.”

Because of its size, Twice is Nice can only carry women’s clothing and accessories, including shoes, jewelry and small, non-electric household goods.

“We don’t judge donations,” Patten said. “We take the responsibility of re-donating anything that isn’t right for the shop and storing things for the offseason.”

The business is staffed by seven volunteers who generally work half-day shifts and three part-time paid staff. Patten and co-manager Mary Crane get paid for six to eight hours of work but also volunteer at least 20 hours apiece each week. Patten resigned from the resource center’s board in order to take the position as a paid employee at the store.

On a busy day, the store can get as many as 20 customers and sell as up to 60 items. While most people come from surrounding towns, others visit from as far away as Middlebury. The store also serves as a meeting place and often people come in just to talk or to wait while their cars are being repaired nearby.

Patten and her husband also co-own another Hinesburg endeavor, the Hinesburgh Public House.

“I grow the flowers and herbs and decorate and consult with Will on everything from economic to personnel issues,” she said.

Patten’s role in the couple’s previous restaurants was bigger and she considers herself a “reluctant owner” of the current establishment.

Although much of her career has been in retail and food services, Patten said one of the most amazing things she has ever done was to work as a mediator. When her oldest child started college, Patten returned to school as well, attending Woodbury College.

She became a divorce mediator but also worked with incarcerated offenders who had committed severe and violent crimes. In cases where both parties agreed, Patten would sit with the offenders and either their victims or surviving family members.

“You prepare for a year to make sure no harm will occur,” she said. “It was wonderful work and the most amazingly rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”

For Patten, managing Twice is Nice is also a gratifying endeavor and she credits the resource center board for being supportive of the shop.

“The store is rewarding because it’s a chance to make a quiet contribution to town,” she said. “People love the fact that the money they spend is going to help their neighbors.”

Winter hours at Twice as Nice are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours are slightly longer during the summer months.

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