Last summer, the Salvation Army closed its doors in Sooke, leaving countless needy residents with little choice of accessible and affordable local items.
Not all was lost, however, as Sally Anne’s departure became the catalyst for yet another enterprise in Sooke, one that is run by the community, for the community.
It’s called the Thrift Shop, run entirely by the Sooke Family Resources Society, also known as SFRS, a charitable organization focused on providing services in the community, such as child care resources, prenatal education, family support programs, among others.
The idea was to create a sustainable cycle where income from the sales go back into programs and services that SFRS offers to the Sooke community, said Nicky Logins, executive director of SFRS.
“Items are donated by the community to get reinvested in the community,” she said.
Before serving as an arm of SFRS, the thrift store was a clothing exchange, but after outgrowing the program, the organization was already looking to expand.
And surely, the opportunity came along.
“When the Salvation Army left, we thought it as an opportunity to develop it into a social enterprise,” Logins said, adding that after encouragement from the local community, the store went forward, opening up shop right next to the power tools store.
That’s where Bev Lewis, the Thrift Shop’s manager, comes in. Lewis took on the reigns of the new shop when the store opened last October.
“We had a soft opening, and the community has been wonderful with the donations,” she said, adding that hot items right now are women’s clothing, as well as housewares such as pots and pans.
Even if an item can’t be sold as-is, the objective is still to give back to the community.
“If we get some medical equipment, it goes to the Loan Cupboard, and if there is something we can’t sell, we contact the Crisis Centre, so nothing gets wasted.”
The store is also working on a “repurpose area” where visitors can pick and choose from a variety of scrapped materials for decoration or artwork.
Lewis is the only paid employee at the shop, working with an army of 25 volunteers to keep the wheels moving. Among them are also Edward Milne Community School students who are helping out as part of their life skills program.
One student, who is autistic, brings a unique set of organization skills not often seen.
“He counts puzzles and makes sure the pieces are all there, which is fantastic. He’s organized the books, DVDs and video games for us alphabetically and numerically,” Lewis said.
“He’s a very gifted young man.”
The students get trained on the cash register and how inventory works in a professional working environment.
Those who want to see the place for themselves can do so from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The store will host a grand opening on Feb. 13 with a tent out front with cake and coffee, at 11 a.m.