A LOT OF HEART– Valley Thrift Shoppe manager Louise Bell arranges a display inside the shop on Thursday

A LOT OF HEART– Valley Thrift Shoppe manager Louise Bell arranges a display inside the shop on Thursday

The little shoppe with a lot of heart

A volunteer-driven community thrift store opens in Clive

Along the charming and quiet main street of Clive, east of Lacombe, lies the bustling community hub, The Valley Thrift Shoppe.

Even though it just opened a mere two weeks ago, each day it opens its doors, residents flock in to either drop off donations or browse the little shop with a lot of heart.

Clearly filling a need in the community, the shop offers not just a place to purchase items where the proceeds raised go directly back into the local community, but it’s a place where residents can meet up and feel like they are giving back to their own community as well.

This rings true for manager and shop coordinator Louise Bell. She has dedicated her time and resources to ensure the shop is a success all the while meeting the community’s needs. “To me it’s a valuable service,” said Bell. “It’s something that, I think when the community ask for something and they’re so responsive to it, it is just a pleasure to be a part of it.

“I don’t feel like I am giving up my life. I feel like I am giving life to my community.”

The shop is completely community-driven and ran solely by volunteers, which Bell thinks adds to the quality of life in the area. “One hundred per cent from what comes in the door, to what goes out the door and whatever we have, we give back to the community,” said Bell.

The Valley Thrift Shoppe is not the first community-based shop in the area. Bell was also involved with the previous shop that was located along the highway, eight or so years ago. “It ran on the honour system, which a lot of people could never believe,” she explained. “We never had any trouble.”

The previous shop shared a space with a restaurant, and it was unmanned for the most part. “We had a sign that asked you to enjoy our store and to browse, select whatever you would like and please place your money in the cash box below.”

The new shop, in design is similar in its community mindset, but the Valley Thrift Shoppe is fully manned and has many charming aspects that make it truly unique.

“I just can’t tell you how great it is for me to see it here again,” said Bell. “If it’s successful, there is no way I’m going to let the door close.

“This opportunity came up and it’s something the community asked for after we closed down. It was something that was very important for the people in the community for a place to be able to give and to feel like they are helping their community.”

All of the items in the shop, from clothing to antiques, small furniture items to children’s toys, have been donated by the community.

“We receive a lot of stuff and we definitely put out the cream of the crop.”

All of the clothing donations are sorted, mended, ironed and prepared to be placed in the store.

All of the proceeds, after meeting the expenses of the shop, will go directly back into the community towards youth groups, children’s programs, hockey teams or other sport teams, wherever the need may be.

Currently the shop is underwritten by the local revitalization association. In its current set up, volunteers might put forth a suggestion as to where they want the funds to be donated to.

The revitalization association would then decide which organization or individuals would receive the funds.

“That way the most people get the most out of it,” said Bell. “And of course, within the store, it’s more based on individuals needs. We do not see a person walk out of here without a pair of shoes, if they need a pair of shoes.”

The shop is also prepared to help those in need during a time of crisis.

“In an emergency, we would respond immediately,” said Bell. “We help families if we know there is a need,” she explained. “We were only open seven days and we had already helped two families out at this store.”

To run the Valley Thrift Shoppe, it takes around eight volunteers, who help run the shop during store hours, help sort donations and mend clothes.

“It takes a lot of us and there’s many that have asked, ‘If you need help, let me know’.”

On the last Thursday of each month, the shop also hosts a mini bake sale, as an opportunity for the community to come in, enjoy treats and meet the volunteers in the shop. “The volunteers that I have are quite new to doing this,” explained Bell. “They haven’t done a lot of volunteerism in the community before so they are quite new to the experience.”

Bell tells her volunteers that serving in the shop is their chance to be friendly and meet people in the community.

For volunteer Nancy Marshall, managing the shop once a week is not only “something to do,” but it’s also a way to give back to the community.

“It’s an awesome little store,” she said. “It’s set up so nice in here and there is always something different to look at and someone different coming in the door.”

On May 28th, the last Thursday of the month, the shop along with the Village of Clive, will be hosting a red ribbon day, as an opportunity to invite people to explore the Village and Main Street. Red ribbons will line Main Street, and any place displaying a colourful ribbon will offer visitors a treat or a deal.

“We are hoping to involve all businesses and people that are on Main Street,” said Bell. “There will be something special in each place for those who come and visit Clive.”

The community-run Valley Thrift Shoppe is located on the Main Street of Clive, next to the Village office. The shop is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Donations can be dropped off at the shop during the hours it’s open or dropped off at the alternate location listed on the door.