If Thursday was any indication, the new Mission Thrift Store location appears poised for success.
Customers turned out in droves to the store at 2823 Bremner Avenue, the response so big that the health region office next door had to turn away those seeking an overflow parking spot.
"The biggest thing was we ran out of space. What we had at the old store was about 5,000 square feet for actually handling our merchandise, storing it and processing,” Robert Riley, thrift store general manager, said about their 12,000 square foot former home at 4936 53 Avenue. Their new store provides 18,000 square feet.
“We're not like any other organization where you have a certain number of things that come in boxes and nicely stored. Everything that comes in here is in a plastic bag. We have to sort it, clean it and decide if we're going to recycle it or sell it."
Proceeds from the Missions Thrift Store, a rebrand from Bibles for Mission as it was known downtown, are given to the Bible League of Canada, which provides outreach services across the country and internationally.
"Here in Red Deer, we have a voucher program. We work with a number of different agencies here, for one, Central Alberta Mental Health, the Salvation Army, the Red Deer Regional Hospital,” Riley points out. “People coming into the hospital may have all their clothes cut off, they call us and we provide them clothing to get them on their feet. The voucher program allows people who need things to come in and purchase $20 or $30 worth of clothing. It's for those in need and it's a substantial amount of product we return back to the community."
Any success the store sees is due in large part to its volunteer staff, 190 of them ranging in age from 14 to 90.
“We make sure our clothing, there's no smell or tears, the butttons are there and zippers work and it's clean. Electronics and appliances, we don't carry large ones, but we make sure when we price it, the ticket says it's been checked and it's working,” Riley says.
The official grand re-opening for the Mission Thrift Store is scheduled for May 6.
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