It was in 1996 that Melba Gunderson, long time United Church member, came up with the idea to start a thrift store. Gunderson has since passed away, but her idea has continued to breathe life into the Lake Cowichan community for more than 15 years.
It started out with spring rummage sales. When the new church was built, the Thrift Store was created and opened once a week for business. Volunteers come because they care about the environment (recycling of the items), and the social aspect.
“We have fun, we have a great time,” says Irene Ridley.
In May of this year, the thrift store will close. Members of the United Church, Audrey Towle, Lillian Marwood, Sylvia McMahon, Irene Ridley, Sharron Carpentier, and Marie Bergstrom have been a part of keeping the thrift store going over the years, alongside many willing men and woman volunteers from the community.
Donations and helping hands from the community have been the mainstay of the United Church Thrift Store. Without the generosity of the local residents, these services would not have been available for families and individuals that needed them. It is all done through volunteer work.
However, the workers are tired. Many of them are over 70-years-old. “We would all like to retire so that we can enjoy our life a little more,” says Sylvia McMahon.
A concern is that there are people who still need the services. “It would be nice to have a dream, that someone else would start another thrift store in Lake Cowichan,” says Towle. “This is an opportunity.” she adds.
For the next few months, the United Church Thrift Store will continue its normal operating hours. Set-up and drop off times are on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11a.m. and the store is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The basement of St. Christopher’s and St. Andrew’s Anglican Church also hosts a weekly sale called Cellar Treasures for people in need. Hours of operation are Wednesdays, 11a.m.-2p.m.
On behalf of the Lake Cowichan United Church, the members would like to thank everyone that has been involved over the years for their generous contribution of time and effort. The United Church Thrift Store has filled the lives and hearts of everyone involved and will surely be missed.