Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A TRUE LABOUR DAY – The Whitehorse Community Thrift Store has found a new home in the Yukon Inn Plaza. Volunteers were working last weekend preparing the space. Here, left-right, Susie Anne Bartsch, Annette Truitt-Avoledo and Dave Avolado toil away on Labour Day.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

COMMUNITY RESPONSE APPRECIATED – Susie Anne Bartsch, seen Wednesday in the new thrift store premises, says she and her colleagues are grateful for the rivers of community support that have flooded the endeavour.

‘Let’s make this our community thrift store’

Inside a 2,019 square foot space in the mall at the Yukon Inn on Fourth Avenue, a new floor is nearly down.

By Stephanie Waddell on September 7, 2018

Inside a 2,019 square foot space in the mall at the Yukon Inn on Fourth Avenue, a new floor is nearly down.

Reno materials are neatly stationed around the floor, ready for volunteers to pick up at the next work session.

A room toward the back of the space – which will eventually serve as an office space – features shelving, holding an eccentric variety of wares – hats, VHS movies, books, coffee mugs and more.

Two plastic pink flamingos and a dark jeweled sombrero are among the more unique items that Susie Anne Bartsch has come across since she began working with a number of other volunteers to get the city’s new thrift store up and running.

Bartsch is part of a core group of about nine (that has grown as large as 18 for individual events) who have been working to get the Whitehorse Community Thrift Store operating.

The move follows the closures of free stores at the city’s landfill and Raven Recycling Society premises. The Salvation Army closed its thrift store in April 2017, and no space for a replacement was incorporated into its new shelter building.

Work has been underway for more than a year looking at the possibility of opening a thrift store. It has included fundraising efforts such as an ongoing gofundme campaign ($6,500 generated so far), popup shops, a toonie sale and the like as planning has continued.

Bartsch highlighted the extensive community support there’s been along the way which.

Along with the fundraising efforts, that has included:

• $20,000 from the territory’s Community Development Fund for a feasibility study;

• $10,000 for start-up and development that came from being a finalist for the Cold Climate Innovation Prize for Social Enterprise; and

• a $4,000 territorial Environmental Awareness Fund Award for the Love2Thrift pop up shops.

Added to that, Bartsch noted in an interview with the Star Wednesday: “We have had so much support and encouragement from the community along the way with donations of supplies, furnishings, money, time.

“Special thanks to Zero Waste, NVD and Northstar Storage and the people of Yukon for getting behind this project.”

The group has continued to update the public via social media pages.

While Bartsch said the volunteers had hoped to have the store one by this point, it took some time to find the right location.

“There’s been a few spots we’ve looked at,” she said.

The chosen location had the right amount of space at a central downtown location available at the right time. Proponents spoke to the operators, and it was soon in their hands, with volunteers getting the space ready.

Bartsch is anticipating a soft opening for Sept. 15, with a grand opening to happen later.

Unlike previous free and thrift stores, residents cannot simply drop off items.

That proved to be a significant problem for the free stores and the Salvation Army’s thrift store, as many of the donations were not usable and had to be taken up to the landfill.

In this case, Bartsch said those looking to donate will be required to make an appointment, at which time store volunteers will go through the items to ensure they are goods that can be sold.

As Bartsch said, the store will be looking for items that are still in good condition and can be used.

She noted there are a few things the store won’t be taking for liability reasons, such as car seats and bike helmets as well as mattresses. Furniture in good condition will be accepted.

Damaged and broken goods will not be accepted. The group’s Facebook page includes a long list of items that will be accepted along with others that it will not take in.

Clothes will also be accepted, though they need to be in good condition, suitable for wear.

As Bartsch pointed out, the work of the group goes beyond operating a thrift store. It will also provide options on what to do with items the store can’t accept, promoting diversion from the landfill where possible.

She noted there’s been a number of lessons learned in the community from not having a free or thrift store for the past 17 months. Among them is learning that there are places residents can take their used goods.

Used car seats that are past their expiration date, for example, can be taken to the territory’s motor vehicles branch to be shredded.

Raven has large bins available in the free store for used clothing that is shipped Outside, with some being sold in consignment stores and others being turned into rags.

Bartsch noted that while the new thrift store will accept clothing, items that are ripped or in too poor a condition to be sold can continue to be donated at Raven.

She asked that residents be thoughtful about what they bring in as the group works to make the thrift store a success.

“Let’s make this our community thrift store,” she said. “We want to be accessible to everybody.”

While the thrift store is a volunteer-led initiative now, it’s anticipated the store will employ a couple of full-time and part-time staffers in the future.

The group’s Facebook page will provide details on intake appointments and store hours when they are available.

Comments (15)

Up 0 Down 0

Susie Anne Bartsch on Sep 15, 2018 at 8:50 am

The thrift store steering committee was previously comprised mostly of representatives of quite a few NGOs and I just saw that it still said that on our Facebook page and changed it. Though many of the NGOs are still connected and active on some level, the WCTS is now its own society. The intention all along has been to support local and locally-rooted NGOs that need revenue to survive, thrive and fulfill their intended social goals. The plan is to set up a strong base and then continue bringing forward the innovative ideas that won the group one of the $10,000 Cold Climate Innovation prizes this year. The reference that someone made to Haiti would probably be related to Littlefoot Prints Big Steps, a very successful program started by local, Morgan Weinberg. LPBS was one of the lead groups involved in starting this thrift store initiative and has continued to be great support as it progresses. No firm determination has yet been made about distribution of funds. The first business at hand is getting the store open and sustainable.

Up 0 Down 0

Susie Anne Bartsch on Sep 15, 2018 at 8:39 am

It is not accurate that the Red Bins at Raven Recycling are a good place to take dysfunctional clothing. Those bins are intended for good clothing, paired shoes etc to be sent to other parts of the world for continued use. I apologize for saying that incorrectly.

Up 0 Down 0

Susie Anne Bartsch on Sep 15, 2018 at 8:39 am

I reread the article and do not see anywhere that it says it will be a 100% volunteer initiative. The second to last paragraph reads "While the thrift store is a volunteer-led initiative now, it’s anticipated the store will employ a couple of full-time and part-time staffers in the future." That is likely to happen sooner than later as this venture requires a lot of commitment and organization to function. Further to that one of the top intentions of the society is to create employment for people with barriers to paid work. That initiative will come further down the line when things are up and running.

I don't agree with the view that initiatives like this or Raven Recycling should only be run by volunteers. These kinds of services are considered by many to be a necessity and need to have trained, skilled people focusing on them and available to support interested volunteers.

Up 7 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Sep 13, 2018 at 11:24 am

Kudos to the many volunteers who are heading up the introduction of this new Thrift Store. I suspect it will take a few months to work all the bugs out and operations will improve as time passes. I have been storing a number of winter coats and similar cold weather clothing waiting for this store to open as I loath the idea of throwing perfectly good clothes away, especially as there are so many in need here in town.

Up 5 Down 3

Bandit on Sep 13, 2018 at 8:40 am

Maybe it’s time for Value Village to take a look at the Whitehorse market again. They run a good operation down south, I just think they weren’t ready when they were here 20+years ago.

Up 10 Down 3

Fredia on Sep 11, 2018 at 5:48 pm

I like the idea of a thrift store as the ones outside have some pretty interesting articles to check out whether you need it or not. Also I think it a good idea that 2nd hand items can be bought as long as it is not more expensive than the new stuff. Now I realize that this thrift store doesn't want dirty or broken merchandise nor have people dropping off their junk but I can't seem to see myself making an appointment and taking the time to have my very usable free donations approved. Sure a nice jacket may have a small rip that could easily be repaired if someone can get it cheap enough but I'm pretty sure I am not going to sew it myself, in fact I know I am not. My thoughts only...

Up 4 Down 22

Seymore Danyu on Sep 10, 2018 at 10:18 pm

Is Mall-Wart not essentially a Thrift Store?

You can buy pink flamingos from there to and get a new t-shirt for $5. A 4 pack of new underwear for $10.
Stupor-Store also has some good, new clothing deals and the occasional pink flamingo too.

Who wants to pay those prices for used underwear - skid mark specials - 4 for $5.95! Eww!
What next? A used sex-toy shop?

Up 14 Down 1

Ilove Parks on Sep 10, 2018 at 4:12 pm

I hope this works out. If not there is an opportunity for a business to open a thrift store.

Up 21 Down 1

My Opinion on Sep 9, 2018 at 3:40 pm

You are absolutely correct on that. Soon there will be wages, as the Volunteers will dry up. Next Management and a Director. Same thing happened with Raven Recycling. History repeats itself.

Up 23 Down 7

Josey Wales on Sep 9, 2018 at 10:32 am

No partial about it, Matt is 100% correct.
Whilst there are folks with good intentions absolutely, please spare me on the 100% volunteer angle as it is very disingenuous.
Watch...another SIMA being created, with good intentions but of course.

Up 19 Down 6

Concerned in whitehorse on Sep 9, 2018 at 8:45 am

I’m a bit confused by this group. They call themselves a “collective of Yukon NGO’s” but don’t specify who they are. I’ve heard they’re charities that send most of their money out of territory (Haiti) which is a bit concerning if they’re doing that by taking the good quality clothing from the no cost clothing donation programs offered at women’s shelters and churches. Until I see clearly where my money is going and that it’s going locally, I won’t be supporting this. A community funded group must be more transparent if they want support.

Up 16 Down 3

Dg Bartsch on Sep 8, 2018 at 7:11 pm

What a complete and excellent expense of time and energy!!! Go Whitehorse!

Up 11 Down 8

My Opinion on Sep 8, 2018 at 3:59 pm

What is Motor Vehicles doing with a Car Seat Shredder? WTF that is not in their mandate at all. Good Lord.
Besides shredding it does not make it go away, it makes it go to the dump in a bag.

The inmates are now running the asylum.

Up 24 Down 2

100% Volunteer on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:33 pm

You might be partially correct on that point Matt, but it was a decision made by some of the original group and a mandatory requirement of the CDF. It did result in providing some informative recommendations for our consideration. You have no idea how many thousands of volunteer hours of work our dedicated team has put into making this Non-Profit Thrift Store come to life for the Benefit of our Community. We are always in need of new energy to help us out if you are interested in volunteering your time to join us.

Up 40 Down 8

Matt on Sep 7, 2018 at 4:54 pm

If you have to do a feasibility study for a thrift store....you don't need one. $20,000.00 to understand if people want to buy used goods. Jeeze!

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