Marlene McKenzie (left)

Marlene McKenzie (left)

Mapping out a bargain

Vernon's downtown thrift stores join forces to offer a map for bargain hunters who are also supporting the community as they shop

From a pair of leather boots to a warm winter coat, Vernon’s downtown thrift stores are home to great style at bargain prices, all while giving back to the community.

And now, bargain-hunters have an easier way of finding their way from one shop to the next, thanks to new maps that list six downtown thrift shops, each with the address, phone number and hours of operation, as well as a description of where the money goes.

At the Mission Loonie Bin Thrift Store, manager Bobbe MacKenzie said she came up with the idea while helping out at a friend’s downtown antique store, which carried a map of Vernon antique shops.

“I said, we need to do this for the thrift stores, so I got a hold of the others downtown, ran it past my board and got the maps printed up,” said MacKenzie. “Laurie Anne at the Electric Paper Company did all of this for us, using a Downtown Vernon Association map for the layout and design.”

She said the stores all embrace the motto listed at the top of the map, “People helping people in the community.”

The maps are available at each of the six thrift stores listed: Venture Treasures, Vernon Pro Life Thrift Store Salvation Army Sal-Mart, Georgette Shop, Mission Boutique and the Loonie Bin.

For MacKenzie, working in the non-profit sector has given her the chance to use her years of retail experience, gleaned from the family business, MacKenzie’s Boys and Men’s Wear, a downtown Vernon institution for many years.

“I wasn’t going to do this, but Bev Henke (Upper Room Mission manager) asked me and I thought about it and it was as though a little voice in my head said to me, ‘I didn’t put you in retail for 50 years for nothing,’ so here I am, and I absolutely love it.

“I’m so lucky to be doing this because I have something to get up and go to — there is no reason for any of us to be bored. We have volunteers with a variety of disabilities, there is something for everyone to do.”

MacKenzie said all of the shops have loyal customers who return regularly  to peruse the racks of clothing, pick up a book to read or perhaps stock up their kitchen cupboard with some gently used dishes.

“People come in and ask, ‘are there any other thrift stores around here?’ so the map seemed like a great way to guide them. It was a way of letting people know we are non-profit and that all of the profits stay in the community.

“The whole idea of these shops is that they are non-profit and run by volunteers, and all of us need volunteers, support and donations.”

Walk and Shop the Thrift Store Way

1. Venture Treasures, 3309C-31st Ave., 778-475-5696; proceeds support the Vernon and District Association for Community Living, with all proceeds going back into programs such as employment training for adults with disabilities.

2. Vernon Pro Life Thrift Store, 3102-31st Ave., 250-545-0777; proceeds support public education on the sanctity of life and a healthy lifestyle as well as support for expectant mothers.

3. Salvation Army Sal-Mart, 3102-29th Ave., 250-549-4515; proceeds support the food bank, food hampers, emergency services disaster relief, moms and tots, youth camps and various other community programs.

4. Georgette Shop, 3100-28th Ave., 250-542-3114; proceeds support local programs supporting mental health services, as well as public education, mental illness first aid and anxiety management.

5. Mission Boutique, 2708-34th St., 250-549-1231; proceeds support Fresh Start Programs, programs for underprivileged, feeding people five days a week, three meals a day, building and maintenance.

6. The Mission Loonie Bin Thrift Store, 3008-34th St., 778-475-5868; proceeds support wages and utilities associated with the Upper Room Mission so the homeless have a place to go for meals, computer training, spiritual guidance and daily chapel.