Faced with the stark reality of rising costs for food and other goods, it seems business is booming for Thrift Shops for NOVA — the West Island charitable haunt for bargain hunters. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made quite a dent in their volunteer base, which keeps the shops going.
On Tuesday, Thrift Shops for NOVA opened a locale in the RioCan strip mall on Jean-Yves St. near Highway 40. With about 6,000 square feet, the new place triples the floor space of their previous location in Kirkland on St-Charles Blvd.
“We needed more room,” said Liz Parker, 80, who founded Thrift Shops for NOVA in 1998.
There are NOVA stores in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue (thrift shop, used bookstore and the Bargain Alley), a second-hand furniture outlet in Beaconsfield’s Beaurepaire Village and another featuring clothes and household items in Pointe-Claire Plaza on St-Jean Blvd. near Highway 20.
To put their need for volunteers in perspective, close to 60 people are signed up to work for the new Kirkland store, while around 180 volunteers help run the three Ste-Anne outlets.
“We’re missing about a third of our volunteers (since the pandemic started),” Parker noted.
Most of their volunteers are seniors and many didn’t return or are reluctant to come back, even part time, because of pandemic health concerns. Some John Abbott College students volunteer at the shops for a few hours a week, Parker said.
“We absolutely need more volunteers,” she added.
More and more people, especially families with kids, are flocking to NOVA thrift stores because of the rising cost for food and other essentials.
“Right now, it’s booming,” Parker said of thrift shop sales. “I think it’s because people are finding the cost of living just too much. They can’t afford to spend $150 on a (new) jacket, whereas they can probably buy one here for $10 or maybe $20. They can buy something that will carry them through the winter.”
NOVA thrift shops rely on the donations of goods in decent condition, which they then sell at low prices.
They donate around $60,000 per month to NOVA West Island, which organizes adult day centres for frail or cognitively impaired adults, offers home support services, palliative and oncology care, as well as bereavement sessions for both children and adults.
All NOVA services are offered to West Islanders free of charge, paid for by corporate sponsors and funds raised by the thrift shops. For more information, visit thriftshopsfornova.com.
It’s up to West Islanders to embrace eco-friendly offerings and to reuse items by donating or purchasing gently used clothing or household goods through local thrift shops. Either option helps the community at large.
Albert Kramberger is editor of the Montreal Gazette’s West Island/Off-Island section.
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Thrift Shops for NOVA
Beaconsfield: Second-hand furniture, lamps, antiques, paintings, accessories, books. 449 Beaconsfield Blvd., 514-694-8417.
Kirkland: Second-hand clothing, shoes, jewelry, china, housewares. 3268 Jean-Yves St., 514-697-6692.
Pointe-Claire: Thrift shop, Pointe-Claire Plaza, 269 St-Jean Blvd.
Ste-Anne: Second-hand clothing, shoes, household items, toys. Also books, videos, CDs, DVDs. 43 Ste-Anne St., 514-457-1642, 514-457-1948 (book shop). And Bargain Alley: clearance merchandise — second-hand clothing, china, housewares, shoes, etc. 41-5 Ste-Anne St., 514-457-1642