By Phil McLachlan
Lynn Cornell and her group of helpers are once again hard at work in the Sparwood Christmas Store, preparing for the upcoming holiday season.
In partnership with the Elk Valley Thrift Shop Society (EVTSS), the Christmas Store is returning for the third year in a row to sell locally-donated Christmas goods at an affordable price. In traditional thrift store style, all profits made by the Christmas Store go back into the community in a variety of ways.
“We want everyone to be able to afford nice things,” said Cornell. “We want to make Christmas affordable for everybody, especially low income homes.”
A goal of the Christmas store is to be as affordable as possible, and most things in the store are under five dollars. Although some larger items in the store cost a little more than this, Cornell believes that she has succeeded in not only matching retail prices, but setting hers significantly lower.
Although prices vary depending on the intricacy of the design, a fully decorated Christmas tree on average can be picked up for around thirty dollars, making the holiday season affordable for the average person.
“The prices are just unbeatable,” said Cornell. “We can’t give things away because we need to give money back to the community, but anyone can come in and buy some really nice stuff.”
Although the Christmas Store is only open for one season, Cornell works tirelessly year-round, making sure the store is ready for the holidays. Starting in September when kids return to school, Cornell goes to work collecting, arranging, pricing and preparing the donated goods.
Cornell has found that many donations are given throughout the year, but most come in between January and March as people start to sort through their things and make room for next year.
Through ads in the paper, radio announcements, flyer distribution and word of mouth the Christmas Store has grown in popularity over the past three years. Cornell was happy to say that they successfully raised over $8,000 last year, and are hoping to at least reach this amount again in 2016.
Outside of the Christmas Store, EVTSS has donated funds to many large projects, especially in the past three years. $25,000 was given to Lilac Terrace as well as an additional $25,000 to the Breezeway project as well as numerous other community projects, hospital foundations, sports organizations and individuals.
Since its inception almost three years ago, EVTSS has donated over $200,000 to the three communities of the Elk Valley.
Cornell dedicates her time to the Christmas Store for multiple reasons.
“I had a personal experience,” she said smiling, “where I was overwhelmed by the support I got from the community.
“You just have to give back,” Cornell added after pausing for a moment. “It feels good to volunteer and give back.”
The Christmas Store will continue to exist as long as they have retail space to distribute their goods. That being said, this will be the Christmas Store’s last year in their current building in Sparwood, a hop away from the Thrift Store.
Currently residing in a building under lease, the District of Sparwood has allowed the Christmas Store to stay there under the pretense that once it sold, they would have to find a new home. Nevertheless, the Christmas Store has plans to stay in Sparwood for 2017 in order to stay close to the Elk Valley Thrift Shop.
The Christmas Store will be opening its doors at 10 a.m. this Saturday, November 19, and will be open until 2 p.m. Throughout the week excluding Sunday’s, the Christmas Store will be open from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.