Debbie Gagne, co-owner at Second Chance Clothing and Home Decor consignment store, said things have been looking up since the store reopened amid the ongoing pandemic. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Debbie Gagne, co-owner at Second Chance Clothing and Home Decor consignment store, said things have been looking up since the store reopened amid the ongoing pandemic. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Red Deer thrift stores busy amid COVID-19

Red Deerians may have taken their spring cleaning to a new level this year while they were stuck at home during the COVID-19 lockdown.

That has meant thrift stores are receiving donations in large numbers.

Nadine Peterson, manager of the Renew Thrift Store, said customers were able to drop off donations even when the outlet was closed at the height of the pandemic.

In a way, the dropoff service helped central Albertans keep busy and productive, and assisted their mental health, at a time when they needed stability in their lives, said Peterson.

“People have been so thankful. We’ve heard so many stories they were sharing with us, that they were feeling lost because everything they knew about the world was shut down,” she said.

Now that the store is open, the manager sees new faces who come in to shop, or sometimes, just to wander around.

“Because they want something to do, they’ve been isolated for so long,” she explained.

Donations at the store have roughly doubled compared to last year, and sales have increased about 50 per cent.

Peterson believes thrift stores are going to play a bigger role in the community going forward, as our economy takes time to recover.

The pandemic has also started a movement – to support local and to give back, Peterson said.

The donations from central Albertans are allowing the store to provide merchandise at an affordable price for families at a time when they want to stretch their dollars, she said.

“As a non-profit, donations are what keep our doors open and help us give back to the community,” Peterson said.

Cora Hoekstra, manager at Mission Thrift store in Red Deer, agrees people have been busy tidying during the lockdown.

The store, which used to open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. before COVID-19, now opens from noon to 5 p.m. But the shorter hours haven’t impacted sales, said Hoekstra.

“I think there is part of our society that loves thrift-store shopping, and so as soon as we were open, they were happy to be back,” Hoekstra said, adding people are eager to be out and about again.

Debbie Gagne, co-owner at Second Chance Clothing and Home Decor consignment store, said people are taking it to heart to shop local amid the global pandemic.

Gagne said the store has been busier this month compared to last month, but that could be because the store has a sale on.

“We started (that sale) early, because with people being out of work, we want to help them out,” she said.

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