Deanne McRae and Mackenzie Gartside present YANA with a cheque from one of their recent store promotions. YANA representative Shormila Bakshi gladly accepts it from the little philanthropic shop. PHOTO CREDIT: Shawnee Waterfield

Courtenay’s philanthropic retail store perpetually supporting multiple causes

Uplifters 'prioritizes social good over shareholder profits'

Uplifters – A Philanthropic Shop is one of the most unique businesses in the entire Comox Valley, in that every purchase made contributes to the well-being of others.

Its mission is to make a positive impact in the local community, and in the wider world, by running a gift and lifestyles store that prioritizes social good over shareholder profits.

“We feature a constantly changing collection of unique and exciting products, many of which have a positive story behind them,” said co-owner and shop manager Deanne McRae. “From new jewelry hand-signed by the survivors lifted out of human trafficking, to new book sales that donate a book to a local literacy charity with every sale, to trendy new apparel giving back to various dog rescues. These are products that you can feel good about buying.”

The little 250 square foot shop at 535 Cliffe Ave., Courtenay has given away almost 500 books mostly through the CV Lifelong Learning Society thus far. Another spreading kindness initiative has been its ‘Fashion Forward’ earrings program. For each of the 200-plus pairs of fashion earrings sold, a new pair was paid forward as a thank you gesture to local frontline workers here in the Comox Valley.

On top of that, Uplifters is committed to representing a wide range of products made locally such as soaps, candles, jewelry, and West Coast apparel. The shop also brings in globally fairly-traded items and recycled fashions.

“Our community is filled with so many talented makers and entrepreneurs. It was important to give them a ‘brick and mortar’ platform to showcase their wares, especially during the pandemic,” said McRae. “The flip side of that is the importance of helping artisans suffering hardships in developing countries. There are families scavenging for glass in Bolivia to be melted down into new glassware, and jewelry makers upcycling brass from salvaged bomb and bullet casings in Cambodia.”

You can ‘purchase with a purpose’ in this shop, knowing it can make a difference to people and their families.

The shop’s small recycled fashion section, called Uplifters Preloved Collective, is one of its best sellers. Mindful shoppers continue to realize the value of recycled clothes, as it not only helps the environment, but their pocketbooks as well.

Co-owner Mackenzie Gartside wants folks to know about the 20 per cent local charity give-back gift boxes the shop makes as well.

“The shop does cool hand-painted gift boxes filled with goodies curated for you (or you can pick out yourself),” said Gartside. “A handwritten card is enclosed listing the ripple effect of the items inside and that a donation has been made in your honour.”

The local charities benefitting from this gift box program includes CV Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, Kus kus sum, MARS Wildlife Rescue, Rotary Club of Comox Valley and YANA.

“Now more than ever, I hope people realize the importance of shopping in small shops like these that continually give back so much to the community; be it to schools, teams, or organizations and help keep them thriving,” said YANA’s Shormila Bakshi.

Come discover this unique little shop where all generations can find a little something to treat themselves or gift others. Stay tuned for some exciting shop news as they announce upcoming fundraisers benefiting even more local charities this season. The shop is located at 535 Cliffe Ave., Courtenay – beside Mackenzie Gartside & Associates office or across from Blue Spruce Ice Cream. For more information call the shop at 250-871-3883 or connect through social media @upliftersshop.

Comox Valley Record