It’s 2:30 p.m. midweek and the Revelstoke Hospital Auxiliary Society (RHAS) thrift store is open. There are nearly two dozen people perusing the merchandise. One of Revelstoke’s busiest stores, this Thursday, Oct. 16, marks its 50th year in business.
Opened on Oct. 16, 1964, by the Junior Auxiliary, (one of three hospital auxiliary groups that have been created since the auxiliary’s 1901 inception), the store’s main purpose was to focus on raising funds to provide both equipment and comfort for those utilizing Queen Victoria Hospital. Today it serves as the RHAS’ largest non stop fundraiser.
The thrift store has enjoyed several different locations around town before moving into a permanent structure that met its needs. On July 1, 2000, the thrift store’s current location on Second Street opened for business. Within two short years the mortgage was paid off.
Volunteers have proven to be the life-blood of the thrift store.
“The Revelstoke Auxiliary Society thrift store is a great place to volunteer,” Lenora White says. “It’s lots of fun. Half price days are the best.”
“It’s the busiest place in town on those days,” fellow volunteer Peter Zmaeff explains. “People are lined at the door.”
White, a volunteer of three years and Zmaeff, a volunteer of two years, were manning the till on one such half price day. A huge variety of people browsed the thrift store. Young, elderly, expectant mothers, and parents with their children all found items at the store. The store is packed with household goods, clothing, costumes, craft supplies, dress up jewelry, ice and hockey skates, helmets, goggles, skis and boots.
“Our customers are people from all walks of life,” explains White.
The thrift store not only supplies Revelstoke locals with affordable items but also brings in revenue that is distributed throughout the community by the RHAS in the form of monetary donations, program funding, and purchases to several community groups.
“The hospital auxiliary has supported the purchases of new equipment at the hospital,” Zmaeff says. “And supports other community groups such as the fire rescue and food bank.”
Vivian Mitchell wholeheartedly agrees on the RHAS generous mandate. “I go through my clothing every spring and fall and things I haven’t used in a couple years, I bring down,” she says. “It’s my contribution because the hospital auxiliary truly does keep everything they make in the community to benefit the community. Every year not for profit organizations can apply for funding.”
Mitchell would know. She is the president of the Revelstoke’s Options for Sexual Health (OPT) clinic, and OPT projects have been funded, in part, by those grants.
The store’s success and ability to do good in the community is documented by its sales figures. In October of 2013 the store made $27,167.53.
The Auxiliary thrift store does run into some issues, mostly people dropping off items not fit to be sold within the store. “We throw out broken things, mattresses. People drop them off at night, leaning them up on the “no mattresses” sign,” explains Randy Gribble, a volunteer who sorts donations six days a week.
Unfortunately, it costs the RHAS money to dispose of such items. “Most of it’s good stuff though,” Gribble explains. “And we try not to put anything to waste.”
The RHAS thrift stores success and longevity is clearly down to the commitment of the volunteers and the generosity of those who donate their items. In recognition of this, Sheila Combs, the thrift stores manager, encourages people to come and celebrate with tea, coffee, cupcakes and a half price sale on October 16th.