The Free Store in Summerside struggling with jam-packed bookings and no-shows

·2 min read

The Free Store in Summerside is booked solid with shopping appointments and asking clients to cancel their slots if they can't make it.

Due to COVID-19 spacing restrictions, anyone wishing to shop at the store must make a 15-minute appointment in advance.

The problem comes, said owner-operator Belinda Woods, when someone doesn't show up for their appointment. Then the time is wasted instead of another client being able to use it.

"If you're coming, great," said Woods. "If not, please let other people come.

"My worry is that people aren't going to get the things that they need."

It's a little trickier now because we can't let as many people into the store. — Belinda Woods, The Free Store

The Free Store allows people to shop free of charge for new and used goods such as winter clothes, bedding, furniture and household items.

The store is always popular this time of year, said Woods, but before the pandemic, Islanders in need could line up outside and she let about 25 people into the store at once.

Now, only one to five people are allowed inside at one time.

"It's a little trickier now because we can't let as many people into the store," said Woods.

"Please, please, either keep your appointment, or cancel it or let me know and I'll be able to fill it with somebody else."

The store is open for shopping every Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. Appointments are all filled, but you can still get on a waiting list in case people cancel.

Special children's shopping event

Woods also just began taking appointments for her special annual children's shopping event on Saturday, Dec. 12.

"That's where the children can come and shop for their parents," she said.

She anticipates those spots will fill up fast as well, and she might extend the event to two Saturdays.

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