Busload of shoppers support women’s charity at Calgary thrift crawl event

A busload of shoppers enjoyed a morning of great deals on Saturday at a thrift store crawl event in Calgary.

Hosted by the Women in Need Society, or WINS, the event saw 40 people load onto a bus to visit three of the charity’s thrift store locations across the city. 

Melissa Mathison, one of the shoppers, said the event was one she wouldn’t miss. 

“Thrifting is great, and not only because you save a ton of money, but it’s also great for sustainability,” she said.

“Sustainable fashion, I feel like, is kind of all the rage these days, and more and more people are finding that second-hand is kind of the way to go.” 

Melissa Mathison, who attended the WINS thrift crawl event, says she finds more people are leaning toward second-hand shopping as a means to support sustainable fashion. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Cathi Kolochuk, director of social enterprise for WINS, said this was the first-ever thrift bus event the organization held — and it was quite a success, with all seats on the bus sold out.

“It is really amazing the response that we’ve gotten,” she said. 

Kolochuk said the event was meant to raise awareness about WINS and the work the organization does.

With the revenue from WINS thrift stores, the charity runs various community programs. Those include a retail and warehouse job training program for newcomers and people who have been out of work for some time, and a program that provides free essential goods like clothing and food for women and families in need.

Increased demand with rising cost of goods

Kolochuk said the current demand for thrifted items like furniture is almost beyond what the charity’s stores can supply. She said that’s likely in part because of the recent influx of refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan.

According to Kolochuk, WINS always sees an increase in sales at its thrift stores during difficult economic times, and that’s certainly the case now with the fast-rising cost-of-living throughout the country.

“People need what we have to offer, and we really do try to offer them shopping in a very dignified manner,” she said. “It’s like any other retail store.”

Kolochuk said there was quite a range of people at Saturday’s event, just like the variety of customers who visit WINS’s thrift stores.

WINS has six thrift store locations across Calgary. (Helen Pike/CBC)

“The customers who come to our store every day, they come for different reasons. They want to make the world a better place, so they want to shop thrift and not buy into fast fashion. They may have a limited budget, so this is a great place to come.”

WINS gives away about $500,000 worth of thrift products for free to community members every year, Kolochuk said. The charity is currently looking for donations of furniture.

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