Whitehorse Daily Star

Committee to study new thrift store

It will be some time before a group of local organizations knows if opening up a thrift store is a possibility.

By Stephanie Waddell on September 12, 2017

It will be some time before a group of local organizations knows if opening up a thrift store is a possibility.

However, if it eventually goes ahead, a meeting held last week may have been the first step toward that.

Last Thursday, more than 20 people – many representing one of many non-profit organizations in town – gathered at the Association franco-yukonnaise building on Strickland Street.

They were there for an information session focused on the possibility of a second-hand store that would be operated by local groups.

“We are at the beginning of the process,” Bruno Bourdache, Volunteer Benevolés Yukon’s executive director, said in an interview Monday.

Local free stores (at the city landfill and the Raven Recycling Society) have closed over the last year. As well, the Salvation Army’s thrift store on Fourth Avenue closed five months ago today.

The shutdowns have left many in the city wondering where they can donate used items they don’t want to end up in the landfill.

Officials with both Raven and the Salvation Army have said they couldn’t handle the amount of used goods coming into their facilities, much of it unusable.

The city’s fire department and Raven have since set up clothing donation bins at Raven that will see the textiles sent out to be recycled. Members of the public cannot shop for clothes there.

Other organizations like the Humane Society Yukon have seen unusable “donations” turn up on their properties.

That has forced them to pay tipping fees when they have to remove the items and take them to the landfill.

A number of consignment stores around the city have posted signs on their door noting they are there for donations and do not want items left on their doorsteps.

Karen Wienberg, of Little Footprints Big Steps, said she has looked at a number of examples throughout Canada and the U.S. of non-profits operating second-hand shops to raise funds for the groups.

“There’s several models,” she said.

Given Volunteer Benevolés Yukon’s work with many non-profits in the city, Bourdache was approached with the concept for Whitehorse.

Last week’s meeting was set up to look at the potential interest as well as explore the logistics of such an operation.

The attendees represented organizations like Raven, the Salvation Army, Zero Waste Yukon, Many Rivers Counselling, and the Heart of Riverdale among others, as well as government bodies like the city and Yukon government.

A few interested individuals were there as well.

“There was a good turnout,” Wienberg said. “It was a good spectrum.”

Among the common issues to come up during the session were the potential management of such a store, the possible location and the ongoing issue of unusable goods being dropped off.

“There’s a lot of challenges,” Wienberg said.

Other operations have found ways to manage what comes in, she noted.

Those include provisions that donations come in at a certain time and be looked at by staff before they’re accepted.

At times, acceptance of donations are also temporarily halted – as the Sally Ann used to do – as part of managing the goods coming in.

So far, there are no clear answers for what may work in Whitehorse.

However, a steering committee of 10 people from last week’s meeting has been formed to look at how such shops operate in other regions and how challenges have been dealt with, and potential available space in Whitehorse.

No space was set aside for a thrift store in the new Salvation Army shelter set to open later this year.

Wienberg made it clear the forming of the steering committee does not mean a thrift store will be opening any time soon.

As she stressed, the steering committee’s work will be focused solely on information-gathering.

Only after it has all the information it’s seeking will the group decide how to proceed, and there’s no set deadline on gathering that information.

The first meeting for the committee is set for Sept. 21.

Comments (10)

Up 22 Down 2

Dave on Sep 15, 2017 at 12:01 pm

The last time I tried to donate any item of clothing it was a perfectly good $200 jacket that I hadn't used much. It's condition was as new and clean but I was told I needed to have it dry cleaned before it would be accepted as a donation. There was no way I was going to pay $50 for a dry cleaning bill just so I could donate a perfectly good, clean jacket. I stopped trying after that as I figured the needy couldn't be that hard up for clothes around here if the collection point turns items like that away.

Up 20 Down 1

Nile on Sep 13, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Pretty much self sufficient better mean no tax dollars being spent on this!

Up 17 Down 2

ATA on Sep 13, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Christina- that's exactly what the intention of this group is - to have a well-organized second hand store operated mainly by volunteers of a few dedicated NPO/ Charitable organizations of our Whitehorse Community. It seems that the writers of some of the negative comments shown here might not be reading and interpreting the Star's message correctly. This project would be beneficial for our Community spirit, environment, fundraising for our valued charitable and other non-profit organizations, and to provide affordable shopping for those looking for gently-used items. Once the project gets off the ground, the store would be pretty much self-sufficient with no costs to the government.

Up 16 Down 6

Just Say'in on Sep 13, 2017 at 11:52 am

Why are we not sending off mountains of stuff to the Caribbean? Maybe their standards are too high as well.
Landfill diversion simply means it goes to someone else dump, Right????

Up 29 Down 1

Just Say'in on Sep 13, 2017 at 11:49 am

I have tried to drop off perfectly good things in the past and apparently things that I was using the day before are never good enough for our needy. Sad. Maybe I am the one that is needy. Go figure.

Up 13 Down 5

jc on Sep 12, 2017 at 10:02 pm

By the way, is Denise and I the only ones who get "you already voted on this comment" when we didn't? Is this just the WS way of preventing free speech and opinions? This has been going on for months now and it's getting pretty frustrating. If it's just a glitch, its time to fix it.

Moderator: So far, we know that this is affecting some people but not all. The Whitehorse Star technician's are trying to figure it out.

Up 18 Down 8

L.Szigety on Sep 12, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Oh look...more taxes.
If any government types are reading this...do us all a favour and STOP WASTING MONEY.

You obviously don't respect the hard work that goes into making that money in the first place. Maybe if you had to have a job in the private sector where waste is frowned upon and results matter, then perhaps your spending habits would have changed before taking office?

Up 11 Down 4

ATA on Sep 12, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Humane Society Yukon has also played a major part in trying to get this joint-venture project going. Not sure why there was no mention of this essential organization in this write-up.

Up 17 Down 2

Christina on Sep 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Could many of the nonprofit organizations get together to run a thrift store together? They could each work in it a day or two per week. And profits, if any, divided up monthly. Just a thought.

Up 23 Down 5

ProScience Greenie on Sep 12, 2017 at 4:53 pm

The committees never end in this territory. Don't expect progress that way.

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