Since Matthew Gullotta got in the business of buying precious metals from people, he has seen the state of the economy first hand.
"For about the last one and half years, I've realized that people are really hurting," Gullotta said.
Gullotta and his wife Cinthia started North American Refinery three years ago. Working out of Tarrytown's and a storefront in Ossining, they also make housecalls to appraise the gold, silver and platinum of people which they then buy and melt down into bars to sell again.
"These aren't folks looking to just get money to go shopping," Gullotta said. "They need money to pay their oil bill, for their kids' private school, to support a kid with disability, it's a single mom whose husband isn't paying child support."
Anyone with jewelry, coins and silverware to unload can bring their items on Saturday to Beekman's street fair, where the Gullottas will have a table in front of the post office. In front of the customer, they weigh and chemically test the product to determine its worth. Customers can take the money in cash (with a driver's license). Gullotta said the test is essential since items are mislabelled. "You can't go by what it says on the back these days," he said.
Though Gullotta said "it's cool when they have no idea what they have" and people can leave with money (and plans for it) they didn't have before. But he avoids taking items of sentimental value. "You can't get it back," he cautions.
Ten percent of the proceeds from Saturday's metal collection will go to local charity Town Wide Kids Helpers, which encourages kids to get started on philanthropy early in life. Kid Helpers have planted flowers at the , collected trash around the villages, and raised money to donate birthday and Christmas presents to other children in need.
"I am a Rotarian," said Gullotta, "which is about service above self. It's great to see kids giving back at a young age."
At last year's street fair, North American Refinery contributed proceeds to help , get a ramp built at her home and an electric wheelchair.
Sleepy Hollow Street Fair is held on Saturday, September 8th from 10 am - 5 pm; look for the North American Refinery table next to the Post Office.