April 2nd, 2016
Helping your community while shopping.
Outfit: Black dress worn forwards, black hoop earrings
Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift store items: Black short boots, multi-coloured geometric off the shoulder raglan top.
The Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store is a great place to find deals on all types of items, but that’s not all they do. I asked Karen Mason, executive director of the Kelowna Women’s Shelter to tell me more about it and here’s what she said:
180 SC: How does the Thrift Store help the Kelowna Women’s shelter?
KWS Profits from the Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store support the many free programs and services the Shelter offers women and their children who have experienced domestic violence. Another huge benefit to our Store is that we allow our clients, and others in need in the community to shop there free through our voucher program. We give vouchers to women who stay at the Shelter and use our other services in order that they can get clothing and household items for them and their children at no cost. We also provide the vouchers to more than a dozen other community organizations who pass them along to their most needy clients so they get to shop free as well. It’s wonderful way to ensure the many generous donations we receive go to those who most need a helping hand, and really support our community.
180 SC: What types of wares does the store sell?
The Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store has all kinds of treasures. We sell men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, footwear, fashion accessories such as purses, scarves and jewelry, small furniture pieces, and household items such as dishes and décor.
180 SC: How is the store run? Who works at it?
KWS: The store has a handful of fabulous, permanent, paid staff who work anywhere from one to five days per week, and a host of incredible volunteers who put in countless hours receiving, sorting, pricing and processing donated items. They are an amazing, energetic team who work really well together to keep the store well stocked and attractive for shoppers. The Store is bright and organized and a great place to shop!
180 SC: Where do you get your donations from?
KWS: We are so fortunate to live in such a generous community as Kelowna. It seems we are always donation-blessed thanks to the many private citizens and businesses who regularly donate items. A number of local stores regularly bring us wonderful new items to sell, and we receive clothing and household goods from the community at a pretty consistent rate. People who want to donate can bring their items to the store on Mondays, Wednesdays or Saturdays between 10 am and 2 pm.
180 SC: How do you determine price points?
KWS: It’s important to us we make our pricing accessible to a wide variety of clients and remain true to the typical thrift store business model. At the same time, the Store is a social enterprise that helps support the work the Shelter does so, at the end of the day, we do need to turn a profit. Our staff and volunteers are very skilled at determining price points that match the items we are putting out for sale on the floor. We do ongoing research at other retail establishments, particularly thrift and secondhand stores, to ensure we are on top of pricing trends. When we get special pieces or designer clothing items, we recognize their value and price those slightly higher than more traditional items. Some of my favourite, most prized designer items were purchased at our Thrift Store for $20 or less.
180 SC: What do you do with unsold items?
KWS: Although we value each and every donation we receive, there are some items that are not of a quality we would feel comfortable selling, or are not items we would be able to sell due to a lack of demand or other factors. We refuse to throw things away so we work with a variety of other local organizations in partnership to ensure everything is used somehow. We work closely with the Soles for Souls shoe bank program, and regularly forward unsold or unsellable footwear to them. We also send unsellable clothing and fabric items to other organizations to be sold or otherwise repurposed.
Well, there you have it! A great place to shop with a dual purpose: clothing recycling and helping the community. Now that’s sustainable!
For more information on the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and their store, click here.