There really is something for everyone at Boston Bar and North Bend’s part-time thrift shop.
Housed in the former North Bend schoolhouse-turned-community centre and museum, a tour of the various rooms of the shop takes longer than you would think for a store run by volunteers and open only Tuesdays and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m.. The shop has a combined men’s and children’s clothing room, several rooms with female clothing, knick knack and houseware rooms. And bookworms won’t be disappointed – there is an entire room lined with books, where you can fill a bag full of reads for the price of $2. Children get their books for free.
And for the folks who love Christmas year-round, the store has an upstairs Christmas-themed room across from the electronics room. Unfortunately Christmas shopping is closed temporarily, as pipes froze and had to be fixed. People love that room, the volunteers at the shop agree, and some even shop there in the summertime.
Arlene Owen and Nancy Hill are staffing the thrift shop on a Saturday in July and they agree they do this work for their neighbours of Boston Bar and North Bend. “It’s for the people in town. Some people have no money,” Hill said. “We have a lot of elderly people here and a lot of people who live here for a while and then they’re gone.”
Some people come to Boston Bar with nothing to their name, they find a place to live and make their way to the thrift store where they are outfitted with housewares and other needs.
Some families who’ve lost their belongings in a house fire have also been helped with donations from the store, this has happened more than once Hill said. A young mother may also come in and get some help outfitting her children.
Everything comes in from donations from the community and most of the shoppers are also community members, although a few visitors coming in off the highway do poke their heads in from time to time.
Some come in looking into their own family history. Owen said a family from Kamloops came through in early July, a man with his daughter and grandson. He had lived in North Bend, gone to school in the building now holding the thrift shop and museum and had worked with his father construct the highline houses built to house railway employees and their families.
“And ladies will come and say ‘Oh, I was a teacher here,’” Hill added.
Some special finds do come in – Owen picks up a pinwheel crystal bowl priced at $20. It makes a deep ping as she flicks the crystal with her finger. Online it would go for $85 she informs. And the community has a group of women who love these kinds of items.
Apart from helping the community, the volunteers enjoy the social aspect of the shop. “Some people just come to visit, the girl next door she bakes homemade pies now and then and brings them,” Hill said.
And of course there is the rush of “the hunt”, Owen and Hill agree, that keeps so many shoppers peering around at knick knacks and odd finds. “We’ve got a couple of ladies who come, on their day off, they’ll almost spend the whole day with us. Root and hunt, we don’t care, take all day,” Hill said.
The thrift store has been open for 12 years, it is run by Hallecks Community Building Group.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the thrift shop is slower than usual. Signs of the pandemic greet visitors when they enter – as shoppers and staff have to wear a mask to enter, “no ifs, ands or buts” a note on the door reads. For the time being, children cannot come into the store and shoppers should observe physical distancing. And for the time being, some volunteers aren’t coming in either as they are at risk.
In August, the volunteers are putting together a rummage sale in the quonset hut outside the community centre. Anything remaining will go to the Salvation Army in Chilliwack for donations to those in need.
Everything will be priced at a dollar, news of which will surely bring the bargain hunters to rummage at this small shop bursting with something for everyone.
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