“the Thrift Store that was” and “the Little Sign that could”
Once upon a time, there was a church in Creston, BC called Trinity United Church. There were a lot of lovely people who attended this church, but through time, these lovely people got older andretired and were not able to give (financially) to the church as they once had.
There came a time when church services had to be held in the Hall because it was too expensive to heat the A-frame building where we once held services. Everyone thought of different ways to raise money for the church and one idea was to turn the A-frame building into a Thrift Store. This way, we would be helping the community by accepting everyone’s unwanted items and we could sell them. Excellent fundraiser.
In 2012, a thrift store was created, under the volunteer management of Donna Kutzner and Jan Miller. It was called Trinity Used Treasures (T.U.T.) We received many things to sell (sometimes too much) and the store was in business. Members of the church showed up to help in the store as well as non-members. Ray Walker made sure therie was music playing, so it was a pleasant place to shop. Mary Pauls liked cleaning things, so anything washable was washed and set out on the shelves shiny clean. We were like a little department store – we had clothes to tools, all we lacked was groceries. It took a little while before people discovered we were open, but once they knew, we had many customers. And, most of the time, they went away happy customers.
Donna and Jan managed the store for several years until Donna resigned and went into other projects. Jan then managed the store until 2015. Both of them did a great job and it was a nice environment to work in.
In September 2015 there was a fire and it destroyed the attached hall. The store was shut down due to the fire. The A-frame received some damage where it had been attached to the hall, and there was damage from water seeping into the store. There was limited electricity and no washroom or water services. The merchandise sat on the store shelves through summer and winter as we were not able to re-open the store.
In the summer of 2017, we knew construction would start soon on the new building to replace the one which had burned. We had to empty the store of all the stuff, as contractors needed access to the building, so packing up began.
On a Monday, people from church came and we had a packing frenzy, and got everything packed into boxes. Gleaners had agreed to take everything if we sorted and packed it all up. But before we could get our stuff to them, they received things from two estate sales and were overloaded. They had no room to receive our stock.
Now we had to decide what to do with everything. Several people said to take it all to the dump/land fill. A few pickup truck loads of items that were not sale-able did go to the landfill, but there was still quite a bit of stuff left.
On the morning of Tuesday, August 29th, about 8:15 in the morning it was decided to open the store to the public and everything would be free. It was felt that this would be a way to give back to the community – a community who had supported the store. Ray was soon at the store with a key and opened it up; he and I (Joyce Semeniuk) unpacked half of the packed boxes and restocked the shelves. By 9:30 the store was open for business again.
Edna Jeffery and Anjanee Gyan-Dyck came to help. The rest of the boxes were opened as customers wandered around. It was a bit chaotic, but the customers didn’t seem to mind.
Edna and Anjanee volunteered to go down to the street so they could tell people about our “free shopping” (we hadn’t had time to advertise). Edna said she needed a sign. I had some very bright, pinkish paper that I brought for making signs, and she wrote on it:
At first, she was going to just hold it, then decided it should be attached to her somehow. So, with good old scotch tape, we taped it to her front and away she went to the street. A lot of people stopped to ask what the sign was all about, and this gave the girls the opportunity to tell about the free shopping at the store. The sign turned out to be a people stopper. But, Edna started getting some weird comments, so she came back up to the store and said “I need to fix this sign!” She added at the bottom of the sign, “not me” and then she DID have a conversation piece.
Edna said she even interrupted conversations of people going by to say everything was free (there were boxes of odds and ends at the street as well). Anybody getting out of cars in the parking lot were told about what we were doing. Therefore, her sign got dubbed, “the little sign that could”.
By Friday of that week, we were all but cleaned out. Around 11am, two fellows came from new Life Furniture with a truck and took the larger pieces we had, plus two boxes of stuff that we thought they might be able to sell in their store. We were then left with only a few small mugs, odd plates, and some glasses to get rid of.
Around noon, Edna came up from the street to say she had to leave. Edna and I were standing in the BIG empty shell of a building, just chit chatting when out of the blue Edna loudly says, “HALLELUJAH, WE DID IT!” and her words echoed back to us.
We then looked at each other, and broke out in song – singing the Hallelujah Chorus (something we had both sung in the Blossom Valley Choir). It’s been said that the acoustics are good in the A-Frame church, and we sounded pretty good in that old building! When we forgot the words, we improvised.
Now the question people are asking is, “are you going to open another store?” The community wants another store to be created