On Friday, November 3, the Elk Valley Thrift Shop Society opened the doors to their new shop, located in Sparwood in the space previously occupied by Express Mart.
As Express Mart’s 36-year- legacy came to a close, this new space is said to open up many windows of opportunity for the thrift shop, who was running out of space in their old location in Centennial Square.
The Elk Valley Thrift Shop Society first opened in December, 2013. By the next month, January 14, they gave back their first donation. To date, they have contributed $250,000 to communities in the Elk Valley, organizations and individuals in need.
“On behalf of council, staff, employees, in all of the districts in Sparwood, we’re really, really proud of you,” said Sparwood councillor, Lois Halko, before the ribbon was cut.
“Your philanthropy as individuals, as a group is simply inspiring, it’s astounding,” she added.
This new location, including all three floors, totals roughly 8000 square feet. The building in which the thrift store was previously located was approximately 2200 square feet. They will be using all of it except for a 1500 square foot space they are renting to a local business.
One quarter the size of their new place, the old location worked, but was so small that staff were stepping over goods in the storage area. This became dangerous for the volunteers, because the store was receiving such massive volumes of clothing. A new elevator is currently being constructed in the back of the building, which will help transport goods and volunteers with physical disabilities to the storage area upstairs.
“This really does solve all our problems,” said Elk Valley Thrift Shop manager, Katrin Taylor. “Its what we need to be able to serve our community better.”
Taylor believes that without the support of the Columbia Basin Trust, none of this would have been able to happen. They financed their mortgage, and also gave the thrift shop society a $150,000 grant. Taylor believes this is pretty special, considering they have been in business for less than four years.
This new building is three storeys tall. Upstairs, alongside the storage area, there will be a lunch room, a washer and dryer, sorting tables, sewing machine and an office for Taylor.
“Thank you, thank you to the community,” said Taylor.
The contents of the thrift store is not limited to donations from local residents. Taylor says they regularly receive donations from not only the Elk Valley, but also Alberta, the interior and Vancouver.
“People are bringing stuff from all over, because they know we have a good reputation,” she said. “Our money goes back to the communities.”
As of Monday, November 6, the thrift store was open for business. Taylor and her team of dedicated volunteers are very excited to be able to present this to the community and do great things in the future.
With more room, goods are displayed in a welcoming, open space, with very little clutter.
Walking in, kitchenware is on the right. To the left is the clothing, which extends to the back wall containing a sports room and miscellaneous hardware section. In the sports section there is a corner full of hockey gear, skis, skates and more. In the opposite corner of the main floor is the children’s section, a library, crafting section, and pet section. Many of the items are brand new, with tags still attached.
“We have a lot going on, and I think we have something for everybody,” said Taylor.
“Its what we need to be able to serve our community better,” said Taylor. “Next year, I’m hoping for six figures, six digits in donations.
“We’ll aim for that. Why not right?”