West Island food bank opens thrift shop to generate funds, provide affordable clothing

·2 min read

COVID-19 has made fundraising for non-profit organizations challenging, but one West Island food bank has come up with a solution.

On Rock community services decided to open a thrift store as a way to generate funds for the food bank.

All the items at Friperie Thriftit in Pierrefonds are donated and gently used, then resold at a discounted price.

"My idea was kind of like, creating a thrift store that felt more like a boutique, [and] is actually a fun place to shop. And that was something that I think is missing, not only in this neighbourhood, but just in the West Island in general," said Kayla Reid, a school art teacher and the store's manager.

With so many people out of work and in need, the store is a way for people to shop affordably and generate funds for the food bank, Reid said.

They have been collecting donations since the summer and the community response has been fantastic, she said. There's a section for everyone — adults, teenagers, and kids.

Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC
Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC

They had to get creative when designing the store to keep costs low.

They ended up using recycled milk crates for the jeans rack and wood pallets to display the children's clothes.

Now that the store, located in the same building as the food bank on Gouin Boulevard, is open, On Rock is looking for volunteers to help sort clothes and work in the store.

Increased demand in the pandemic

Since the start of the pandemic, On Rock has seen more people turn to them for help.

Kim Reid, president of the food bank and Kayla Reid's father, says they went from serving 210 families per week to more than 300.

But the pandemic also affected the organization itself — all their fundraisers (a wine tasting, a motorcycle ride, an art exhibition) had to be cancelled.

"We realized that we couldn't do any of our fundraisers because all of our fundraisers are things that bring people together," Kim Reid said.

Jean-Claude Taliana
Jean-Claude Taliana

The thrift store was an idea they had been considering for a couple of years, and the pandemic made it a priority.

He said last week, someone at the store who said they wouldn't usually be able to afford brand name running shoes picked up a pair of Adidas shoes for $5 and a North Face sweatshirt for $15.

"He's holding it and going, this is like a $100 sweatshirt. I would never be able to afford this."

The hope, Kim Reid said, is that the store will bring in about $100,000 a year to help fund the food bank and On Rock's other programs.