by Joie Quarton
The Whitehorse Community Thrift Store Society will be looking to open a local community-minded thrift store to repurpose your stuff!
When it comes to buying clothes, I’m not much of a thrift shopper and I am often so impressed by the things friends find and look great in. What I look for at thrift stores are old linen tablecloths, especially ones with embroidery on them. At $3 or $4, it is almost impossible for me to not take them home and add them to my collection. I use them on my picnic table in the summer and when I organize dinner parties in the winter. They perfectly complement the old dishes my grandmother left me and that I am determined to use, not just look at. Occasionally, I am inspired to sew something from one of my tablecloth finds.
My mom was an intrepid thrift shopper and volunteer. In fact, one of the funny family stories we tell is about the blue-and-white sheets she found at the Summerland Thrift Shop. She always made her own pajamas, and the blue sheets with white stars on them were perfect for that repurpose. When she got them made, however, she decided they looked so good, she’d wear them to her bridge club, where her friends also thought they looked really good. Fast forward to my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary dinner, held in a vineyard in the Okanagan, and there she was, laughing with my dad after 50 years of marriage, and wearing the outfit she created from repurposed sheets!
When my mom died, I sewed myself a shirt from an old linen tablecloth purchased at the Summerland Thrift Shop, the place my mother shopped at and volunteered at for at least 50 years! The Summerland Thrift Shop is inspiring … staffed entirely by volunteers; last year it gave away $399,000 to health-related organizations.
Like I said, I’m not as clever as some of my friends at finding great clothes at thrift shops. I love colour and fashion and often end up with new clothes in my closet that were purchased a bit impulsively, lured by a beautiful print or style. When I realize that I am not really likely to wear the item, however, I am really happy to pass it on to someone who will, and it gives me significant pleasure to feel I am contributing to someone else’s opportunity to pick up a great find at a thrift store.
That’s been pretty challenging here in Whitehorse for the past year or so. Like many of you, I can’t bear to put the clothes or housewares I know I will no longer use into the landfill, and although it does make me think more about what I purchase, dumping my unwanted stuff just feels wrong.
Last spring, I heard there was a group beginning to organize a new thrift store for Whitehorse. I went to a meeting and was hooked. Here was a diverse, interesting, committed group of people—some individuals, and some representing non-profit organizations—who were really determined to address this gap in our community. Some of the faces have changed since that first meeting, but the drive and commitment remain. We have now incorporated as a non-profit, the Whitehorse Community Thrift Store Society. We have obtained a business license and gathered 1200 square feet of used clothes, books, housewares and toys. We have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise seed money to rent a permanent space and hire a project manager. We have dreams and ideas for what this place could be—a community gathering place, a place to learn about recycling and repurposing, a place where quality used clothing and housewares will be available at affordable prices and not end up in the dump.
As we have gathered reusable stuff in our temporary location at Northern Vision Development Place (the old Canadian Tire) and, relying on a growing cadre of volunteers, we have entered the circular economy by holding several pop-up thrift stores to begin bringing in money and providing some of Whitehorse’s great used stuff for sale. We are only in our current location until the end of August, so have been reluctant to open ourselves up to the tsunami of donations we expect when we send out the invitation that we are ready to receive your stuff. Stay tuned—we hope this will be possible soon.
We plan to be able to take your great used stuff soon!
Joie Quarton currently chairs the Steering Committee for the Whitehorse Community Thrift Store Society. She is committed to leaving a light footprint on the planet!