St. Paul’s Thrift Shop turns 20

The Thrift Shop began its days in the annex of the church basement on October 19, 1996 after a very successful rummage sale.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church Thrift Shop has been operating for 20 years.

A celebration was recently held for the volunteers and 20 of the 31 helpers shared a delicious catered dinner of halibut, salmon, venison, upside-down cake, fruit and whipped cream.

The Thrift Shop began its days in the annex of the church basement on October 19, 1996 after a very successful rummage sale. There was a heap of clothing left over, so people decided to open a shop rather than throw it all out. At first there were only one or two volunteers, then other members of St. Paul’s congregation helped out. All were either born in Masset or had lived here for many years.

The ‘Wednesday group’ started. They cut up clean, unsaleable cottons that fishermen, gas stations, and other industries use. They remove buttons for resale and price items for sale. They also sort donations between openings so there is always something new for display. Sometimes up to 20 bags at a time arrive on the porch, sadly most of it fit only for the dumpster. It is estimated that, out of 20 bags donated, only one is worth saving. But it all has to be processed. There is also a small ‘book nook’ as well as spaces for VHS tapes, DVDs and CDs. There is even an ‘electronics wall’ for spare USB cables and assorted wiring. Every celebratory season has its own special place: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Halloween.

“When it began no one had any idea how long it would last,” said Archdeacon Peter Hamel, who helps out everywhere.

“Everyone is a volunteer. They are hesitant to be named, we have no paid staff, yet St. Paul’s Thrift Shop has been described in a recent island bestseller as ‘The Best Thrift Shop in the World!’,” said Hamel.

“The Transition House patrons find what they need, we recently started a voucher program with Mental Health Services, we give items as needed to the Community Wellness Centre, and recently donated funds to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) to assist with the present refugee crisis.

“We also try to assist those who have lost everything through fire or flood and volunteers always try to accommodate as many different requests as possible. People come not only to shop, but to relax and socialize. It is our own ‘Messy Church’ (an international initiative designed and shaped to meet the needs of families in community),” Hamel said.

“Parents bring children to play with the toys while they themselves chat about shared experiences. It is definitely a people place and a safe haven. Volunteers wear out, but, always, just in time, new ones come along. We have been blessed with upwards of 50 volunteers since we opened in 1996. It is an ongoing miracle.”