High school's B-R Boutique is a thriving thrift store

Annie Higgins’ faculty title at Bridgewater-Raritan High School is Teacher of Special Education-Multiple Disabilities.

This tireless and passionate teacher also serves as the Class of 2026 Advisor and the Business Advisor to the high school’s student newspaper and volunteers as the high school’s Special Olympics coach.

Add this to her resume: Store manager.

She does a terrific job of operating a store that offers clothing, shoes and supplies for members of the Bridgewater-Raritan High School community.

The B-R Boutique is up and running for business.

For now, the boutique is tucked away in the former faculty lounge that is the neighbor to the high school nurse’s office. And just around the corner are the auditorium and main cafeteria.

 So while the shop is somewhat isolated, there is plenty of heavy traffic just down the hallway.

Perfect location for a store.

Ms. Higgins is the proprietor and her students are her working staff in a store that gladly gives away the merchandise.

“”I want to make it feel like a store so kids can have that typical shopping experience,” Ms. Higgins explained.

The racks of clothes and the stacks of shoes and sneakers are the result of donations as well as leftovers from the Pandemic.

“A few years ago, my students worked the lost and found here, and eventually we would wash the clothes and I would bring them to the Red Cross,” Ms. Higgins recalled.

But eventually the lost and found became lost and forgotten.

“Just after the Pandemic, there was a lot of stuff left in lockers. so once we could not locate where they belonged to, we decided to keep and donate to the community.” she said.

She revealed that all of the clothing, shoes and supplies were stored in a vacant room in the school.

Once the items were all cleaned, she pursued a store front.

Her request for space came this past school year and now the shop is stuffed with merchandise that can be displayed thanks to the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).

“We received a grant from the PTO that enabled us to buy rolling racks, shelves, laundry baskets and hangers,” Ms. Higgins reported.

She explained how the goods are shared by the boutique that is open daily during school hours.

“Any staff member can bring a student here and they can pick out what they need,” she said. “Sometimes people show up and ask for certain clothes that we may not have so I am going to get a wish list up and running.”

The boutique is replenished by donations that are dropped off in Room 207B in the high school.

She desires to have her staff become even busier.

“I want to start partnering with clubs on campus. We want to get the word out to the students,” Ms. Higgins claimed.

Her hard-working students are gaining experience in the boutique through their Employment Orientation class.

On this afternoon, two of Ms. Higgins’ students, Matthew and Sarah, were providing helping hands.

They assisted in sorting out the jackets and coats according to the sizes and then they hung the clothing up in the appropriate area.

“This is their working experience,” Ms. Higgins said.

She envisioned that the shop can lead to community swap days and donation drives.

“I want this to take off,” she said.

And she will be there to see that it does.