SUMMERSIDE – When Anna MacDonald walked through the doors of the Salvation Army Thrift Store, she saw a challenge.
“But I also saw potential. I saw what I could do to make the store more customer friendly and things I could do to dispel people from saying that it was a ‘poor people’s store’.
“This isn’t a glorified yard sale. It’s a store for all people no matter the walk of life.”
In May, MacDonald took over the role of managing the store, and immediately she knew things needed revitalizing.
“We’ve put in new floors, new shelving, we’ve added another dressing room, we are re-painting the walls and we’ve added a furniture section, which used to be an old storage room, and that’s allowed us to clear up a significant amount of room in the actual store part,” explained MacDonald.
Neil Abbott, captain of the Summerside Salvation Army Corps, added, “It’s easily given us about 400 square feet of room. Anna has certainly taken on the challenge and things have really come along.”
Now it really looks like a store, said MacDonald.
The thrift store has been at its current location for about eight years.
“It’s always been incredibly busy, at any time of day, but when you come in, things are in sections. Ladies’ is with ladies’; men’s is with men’s. We even have a kids corner that is sectioned off so they can play and watch TV.”
The store is also pushing its initiative to recycle excess donations they get.
“For about five months we’ve taken stock that hasn’t sold in our store as well as excess that we’ve gotten and put it in a shipping container. From there it is shipped to a sorting centre and then it is distributed to Salvation Army stores across the country and possibly even further.”
Abbott added, “We need to respect and honour the folk that come through the door, or those who aren’t as fortunate but also deserve top quality things. But when we receive donations that are dirty or broken it doesn’t allow us to do that.”
It’s important to recognize that things we don’t sell aren’t just sent to the landfill, said MacDonald.
She added, “We try to ensure that we only put out the best items. That includes clothing items, household items and seasonal and special occasion pieces.
“Ninety per cent of our store is priced at $2 to $3 an item. But with our speciality items, the price is a bit higher, but still reasonable. No matter what you buy in this store, you are getting something for a very small fraction of the price. But with speciality items, in most cases they are something you want but don’t need, so by raising the price it will ultimately help raise even more money for the Salvation Army ministry that goes toward programs and family aid.”
Abbott and MacDonald are hoping the revitalization will draw more donations as well as provide a welcoming environment for shoppers and those interested in volunteering at the store.
“It’s the place to be in Summerside,” said Abbott.
MacDonald added, “It’s a rewarding, high energy place, and anyone who works here or volunteers knows that it’s a tremendous amount of work, but knowing that you are working towards helping your community is really satisfying.”