The Courtyard in Hinsdale—Much more than a bargain

November 2016 View more

nmag1116_neighborhoodprofile_thecourtyard_800pxWhen customers enter The Courtyard in Hinsdale they know they are getting more than a phenomenal deal. For 25 years the store has been turning other people’s trash into treasure, while raising more than $4 million for a special cause. All the money raised is helping to provide programs for Wellness House, a center supporting cancer patients and their families.

Town Treasure

The consignment store, which has become something of a town treasure itself, opened in 1991. Store manager Marna Slawson was drawn to Wellness House after contracting lung cancer 14 years ago. Now cancer free, she’s managed the store for eight years and she says her volunteers and clients are like family.

“We have very loyal customers who come in once a week looking for new finds,” said Slawson. “I get to work with our volunteers who are great women. I love being connected to Wellness House while doing something great.”

Treasure Hunters

The store, tucked away in one of Hinsdale’s attractive allies, is a few blocks away from the organization they serve. It’s crammed with paintings, furniture, lighting, bric-a-brac and more. A merchandising team of volunteer treasure hunters meets with consignors weekly to select the next batch of goods.

Wellness House serves around 3,000 people annually, with numbers rising each year. They serve a 15 mile radius so anyone in the Chicagoland area is welcome to use their services. These include counseling and support for patients and families. The mission of Wellness House is to help all people affected by cancer thrive. All programs are offered as a complement to medical treatment aiming to educate, support and empower participants. Although independent, they do have relationships with Edward Hospital and Advocate Health Care.

“We provide an individualized approach. We believe cancer is a family illness and the more we can positively impact the entire family the better. It can help reduce stress and anxiety for everyone,” said Jeannie Cella, president and CEO, The Courtyard.

A Personal Connection

Cella also has a personal reason for championing Wellness House. When she was 22 she lost her mother to metastatic lung cancer.

“She was my best friend, all my family were affected by her loss,” she said. “When I heard that Wellness House was coming to Hinsdale years later I thought how we could have used them. It’s such a powerful service. I know because I lived through that devastation myself.”

A year after Wellness House opened The Courtyard in Hinsdale was created to raise money for them.

“It was founded by women in town who had been affected by cancer,” Cella explained. “They had a passion for consignment. Today, most of those women are in their 70s but still volunteering with us. Their passion came from a fire in their bellies for getting the best items to raise money for us. Now we have a lovely consignment shop that has the most dedicated people on the planet running it.”

Wellness House does not charge for its services, funds raised by the Courtyard are extremely important to keeping its mission alive.

“Everything happens here because someone reaches into their pocket to give us money,” Cella said. “Last year the Courtyard raised $175,000, which was money I didn’t have to raise. Our focus is to serve as many people as we can on their cancer journey.”

Volunteers, donations and consignments are always welcome. For more information visit or