On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, the Sandhills Woman’s Exchange at 15 Azalea Road will be reopening for the spring 2021 season.

The SWE, housed in an historic 1810 cabin, closed in mid-December for the holidays. During the COVID-19 virus, the cabin board members have been dedicated to safely continue operations according to the governor’s guidelines.

Reflecting those guidelines, no reservations will be taken for the Cabin Cafe, but guests will be seated on a first come, first served basis. Lunch hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. With a total number of 16 diners, the cafe will only allow a maximum of 6 per table. A total of 10 guests in the gift shop will be allowed. Masks will be required to enter the cabin for the gift shop and cafe until seated at a table. A plexiglas shield has been installed at the volunteer gift shop cashier area. All staff and volunteers will be wearing masks. Extensive cleaning continues to be a top priority throughout this spring season. With the Groundhog Day reopening, guests will be treated to the Punxsutawney theme and special cookies all week long.

“Prior to this pandemic, our local Sandhills Woman’s Exchange was one of only 20 exchanges remaining in the United States,” says Judie Wiggins, of the SWE communications team.

The first exchange opened in 1832, the Philadelphia Ladies Depository followed by the second in 1856, the New Brunswick Depository. Both joined the National Federation of Exchanges in March of 1934 as a way for women to augment their family’s income through handmade items for consignment sale.

“Therefore, our national mission statement has always been ‘Helping Others Help Themselves,” says Wiggins.

Sadly, four of the National Federation of Woman’s Exchanges have been forced to close due to the pandemic, including those in Baltimore, Md.; Sherman, Texas.; Little Silver, N.J.; and West Reading, Pa. The oldest woman’s exchange is in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“These Woman’s Exchanges represent one of the oldest, continuously operating voluntary movements in the United States,” says Wiggins.

Board members for the 2020-2021 year are: Barb Summers, president; Barbara Keating, first vice president; Dolores Muller, second vice president; Rosemary Zuhone, assistant for programs; Anne Wright, treasurer; Yvonne Gale, recording secretary; Patti Talton, corresponding secretary; Faith Clay and Mary Glass, volunteer waitresses; Marie Carbrey, membership chair; Mary Rocca, Volunteer Gift Shop; and Judie Wiggins, communications team.

Advisers to the SWE for this coming year include Cav Peterson, Joyce Reehling, Ron Rhody, Jim Wiltjer, Jesse Wimberley, Amanda Jakl, Audrey Moriarty and Elizabeth Fisher.

From this spring reopening until mid-May, the SWE hours will be Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Cabin Cafe serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteer opportunities at the cabin include helping in the artisan gift shop, serving as a waitress in the Cabin Cafe, garden upkeep and kitchen helper.

The Exchange is located at 15 Azalea Road, Pinehurst.