Okanagan second-hand stores see spike in donations now that people can finally donate - InfoNews

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Okanagan second-hand stores see spike in donations now that people can finally donate

June 03, 2020 - 6:30 AM

Since Habitat for Humanity's Restore locations in the Okanagan re-opened with pandemic precautions, they've barely been able to keep up with the number of donations being dropped off.

“Our back rooms are like a war zone,” said chief operations officer Neil Smith, with the Okanagan non-profit. He said the Restores are in desperate need of volunteers, asking for 100 across the Okanagan.

Over the last few weeks, retail locations have begun to reopen their doors as provincial restrictions have eased with the low number of new COVID-19 cases. Smith said Restores play an important role in both reducing and reusing items that might end up as trash, as well as expanding to provide used home and building supplies to people who need them. They're planning a new facility in Lake Country.

“At the end of the day, we don’t want stuff to go to the landfill. We’re raising money for the Lake Country build,” Smith said. “The support of the community has been incredible, but with the good comes the bad. Like how do we process this fast enough?” 

The Restores have been getting two-months worth of donations piled together in the last two weeks, as people have been storing their stuff, and donating it now that the stores have reopened, he said.

“Where we would have originally got it at the end of March they’re bringing it into us on June 2 instead,” he said.

The Restores will continue to provide online options through Shopify and will be updating it once workers get “some breathing room,” Smith said.

READ MORE: Habitat for Humanity Okanagan Restore moves online

“Right now it’s really difficult to manage the day-to-day in the stores plus update the Shopify,” he said, adding that they’re currently working with a skeleton staff.

If volunteers are able to come in for a few hours at different parts of the day would be helpful, he said.

“Even our small market stores in Penticton and Vernon have seen a huge upswell in their donations,” he said, adding that donations are mostly small household items since Habitat for Humanity trucks aren’t able to perform residential furniture pickups with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The spike in donations is still not enough to cover two months worth of rent, he said.

Smith estimates the stores will be in recovery mode until the end of August with operational costs, he said.

“Our expenses are going to be higher than what we normally run.”

There are Restore locations in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Kamloops. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit that builds housing for those in need, providing them with affordable places to live.

Okanagan Restore locations in the Okanagan are accepting donations Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The stores are also open for shopping with limited hours from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Restores aren’t the only thrifty business that has experienced an uptick in donations.

Value Villages in the Okanagan have also seen an increase as customers have been holding onto their stuff.

READ MORE: Kelowna's Value Village first to re-open in North America

“We are experiencing a high volume of donations of clothing and household goods as spring cleaning has been a popular way for people to pass the time while at home,” said Sara Gaugl, Value Village communications director.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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