Slightly North of Zero: My shopping education



I was sitting on a beach in the Shuswap this past weekend being educated by my friend Maureen, on the Tsawwassen thrift store circuit. Maureen is also a resident of South Delta, but she falls into the category of “savvy” shopper. She rarely pays full price for anything, and she is always stylishly dressed.

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I admit that I am not all that fond of shopping, but I find thrift store shopping particularly overwhelming. I would rather pay more money than search through racks and racks of clothing. I don’t have a problem wearing thrift store clothing; I just prefer to have someone else do the labour for me. (Thanks, mom!)

Feeling empowered after my conversation with Maureen, my first order of business upon returning to town was to visit some of our local establishments. I decided to start with the thrift store at the KinVillage on 10th Avenue because I didn’t even know it existed. What I found was the “Unique Boutique” and honestly, it was unlike any thrift store I have ever been in. I felt like I was in an upscale women’s shop. It is bright, and airy, and the clothing is attractively displayed. There isn’t any clutter. I immediately felt relaxed in this environment.

Volunteer Jean and Coordinator Deb Topley outside the Unique Boutique

Although I was not looking for anything specific, I found a simple jean skirt ($7.00) and a tank top ($4.00) that were perfect for the summer. They were in excellent condition. I learned that all of the clothing is carefully selected, then washed and steamed before it goes on display. Customers can try items on in two fitting rooms at the back of the shop. Best of all, there are mirrors inside the rooms, so you needn’t come out unless you want to.

In talking to the three, enthusiastic volunteers while I paid for my purchases, I was surprised to learn that the shop has been in existence since the 1980s. It is passionately run by coordinator Deb Topley, and her crew. The funds raised pay for a variety of programs offered to seniors at the Kinsman Recreation centre.

The shop was not always as elegant as it is now. About five years ago, one of their volunteers passed away and bequeathed them some money, which was used to renovate and redesign the shop. There is a photograph and a plaque on the wall in honour of Marjorie Kendall Shea. She was also a model in the racy “A New Wrinkle” calendar from 2001-2002.

I left the “Unique Boutique” feeling content. I had successfully dipped my toe into the waters of the thrift store circuit, I made a new discovery in our community, and I connected with the lovely ladies volunteering in the shop. Not being one to tempt fate, I’m afraid the rest of my shopping education will have to wait for another day.

The “Unique Boutique” is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. There is a donation box outside the Save-On-Foods in Tsawwassen and another one outside the shop at the KinVillage Community Centre.

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