A bright green sign on the Trans-Canada Highway at the west end of town heralds another thrift shop for Salmon Arm.
A surprise to the thrift shop community, the new addition will be operated by Kindale Developmental Association, a non-profit society that provides a wide range of services to people with developmental and other disabilities throughout the North Okanagan.
Kindale began in Armstrong in 1959 as a small school for children with special needs and has since grown into a large and diverse organization serving 130 consumers in several North Okanagan communities. Some services, such as home-sharing, extend to Salmon Arm, Sicamous and Revelstoke.
Kindale also operates a successful thrift store in Armstrong that is staffed by volunteers from the community and plans to open its Salmon Arm branch sometime this month.
“We have a good relationship with the thrift store In Armstrong and other thrift stores,” says Cindy Masters, Kindale development officer. “Kindale focuses on working together, we’re about building community.”
Masters says Kindale has an office in Salmon Arm and has been operating home shares in the area for four years.
Proceeds of the new store will be used to serve clients in the area, says Masters, noting she is aware concerns were expressed on a social media site regarding the possibility another thrift store will cut into the charitable pie.
“Thrift stores are not for depressed communities; thrift stores are about new-age environments with people who care about landfills and are recycling and reusing rather than buying.”
Masters says people from Salmon Arm and Kelowna visit the organization’s Armstrong store, and thrift stores in Armstrong help each other out.
Churches Thrift Shop manager Lynda Menzies says she has no problem with the addition of a new thrift store.
“I truly feel that there’s lots of donations and competition is healthy,” Menzies says, noting she believes Kindale will need a strong volunteer base in order to succeed. “We have approximately 250 volunteers a week.”
Churches Thrift Store supports the 15 churches that provide volunteers as well as Second Harvest, Salvation Army Food Bank, Neighbourlink and the women’s shelter. They also support school breakfast and lunch programs and the Fifth Avenue Seniors’ Activity Centre.
“People make applications so the amount varies from year to year,” Menzies says of how much money the store disburses. “But it’s close to $100,000.”
Sheldon Feener, pastor of the Salvation Army’s New Hope Community Church and manager of the Lighthouse shelter that can accommodate 16 people, is also in favour of competition.
“I really don’t have a problem with it, I think it’s a great opportunity for the people of Salmon Arm to get things at affordable prices,” he says, pointing out the store that supports operation of the shelter gets ample donations. “In a community like this, there is plenty of support and, at the heart of it is we’re all serving the same people. I would even go so far as to say, when we’re serving the same people, it’s not competition.”
Feener says that when needed, the church and fundraising events support the shelter that is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue SW and Third Street – one block south of Canada Safeway.
Dawn Dunlop, executive director of the Salmon Arm branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), says the impending arrival of a new thrift store was a surprise to the social services community. She says CMHA is part of the Shuswap Community Resources Co-operative along with the SAFE Society, Shuswap Children’s Association and the Eagle Valley Support Society.
“We work collaboratively and have a non-compete clause,” Dunlop says, noting she has been playing telephone tag with Kindale’s executive director. “I called them to say, how can we work in partnership or together?’ We did that when the Salvation Army opened their store.”