It is the only store in Summerland where customers line up, waiting for the doors to open.
The Thrift Shop is operated by the Summerland Health-Care Auxiliary, an organization made up of approximately 175 members.
Earnings from the store are contributed to community health care services.
The shop itself is operated much like any retail business. Policy and procedures are determined at the executive level by the board members and the day to day operations are carried out by management and staff. In the case of the thrift shop, the differences are, the work at every level is done by volunteers and the products sold are donated.
Val Carriere enjoys her job as head convener of the store. She ensures there are enough volunteers scheduled each day and that things run smoothly. She deals with any minor problems that may arise, for customers or volunteers.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “You’ve got to keep everyone happy.”
Wes Campbell is the president of the auxiliary and also is the lead pricer for the five pricing crews. They start at 5:30 a.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Bags and boxes of donated items are opened, inspected, sorted and priced. Clothing is checked to make sure there are no rips or stains and that zippers work and pockets are empty. Clothes that are out of season are boxed and stored away, for the seasonal crews, who work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to bring out at the appropriate time of year.
Items such as puzzles, books, household goods and toys are all priced by volunteers that are in charge of each category.
Any donation that may be considered antique, is set aside for the “Antique Lady” to price and display.
There is a policy in place that restricts any of the volunteers from purchasing these higher quality goods until the store is open and the customers have had a chance to come in.
The merchandise in the store is rotated on a regular basis. Price tickets are colour coded, with a different colour being used each week. If something has not sold within three weeks it is removed from the floor. Non saleable items are passed on to a network of other charities in neighbouring communities.
“We really make an effort to not put out anything that is stained or ripped or otherwise looks like it has been through a hundred washes,” said Berit Hack. “We want to have good quality merchandise, because that is what brings people back.”
Hack also explained that the store has to pay to have their garbage removed. She encourages people to check the website to see what can and cannot be donated.
“There are a lot of things that people drop off that should be going to the landfill,” she said. “We want things that are clean and gently used. We don’t appreciate getting things that really should have gone into the garbage.”
Campbell said “Ninety per cent of the donations we get we can use. We try not to throw anything away.”
The importance of dropping off donations between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. was stressed.
“We can make sure there are people here to take the donations inside, rather than leaving them out overnight,” Campbell explained.
“We appreciate the donations,” said Carriere. “We wouldn’t be here without them.”
“The community has been really great to us with donations and how they’ve supported the Thrift Shop,” added Campbell.
Even though the Health Care Auxiliary has a large number of members, they are always looking for more volunteers, because they also provide volunteers to host the eye surgery clinics, the visiting program at the extended care and the Candy striper Program.
Campbell said that many of their volunteers are in their 70s and 80s. “We could really use some young volunteers. Young for us is 60,” he quipped. He said he would encourage others to join, because “it’s such a happy place to work.”
Volunteer, Diana Bennest agrees. “It’s the best social club in town,” she said.
For more information on how to join and what can be donated go to summerlandhealthcareauxiliary.com.