Customers browse through the inventory at the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society Thrift Store. Below

Customers browse through the inventory at the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society Thrift Store. Below

Expansion doubles thrift-shop space

White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society volunteers ‘thrilled’ with renovations

From the moment you open the front door and walk into the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society Thrift Store, it’s obvious it is a popular place.

A line at least five customers deep waits at the till as a pair of volunteers behind the counter work to ring up purchases; a handful of other customers weave through row upon row of inventory – racks of jackets, a shelf stacked high with shoes,  and another with knick-knacks. On the walls are hung all manner of framed pictures, and just a few feet above shoppers’ heads hang a variety of chandeliers and light fixtures.

There is – even after a recent expansion doubled the store’s retail space – very little room to move.

“This is about average for us, I’d say. Some days we’re busier,” said Victoria Biggs, the assistant manager.

Though it’s busy, Biggs and her staff certainly aren’t complaining. Quite the opposite, in fact – they’re thrilled, as February’s renovation has given both the South Surrey’s store’s volunteers and customers a boost.

In early February, Biggs explained, the thrift store took over a neighbouring space previously used by Black Bond Books. A wall was removed, some rewiring was done and paint was applied and, voila, suddenly the thrift store had a lot more room.

“We didn’t close at all. They came in and did the rewiring, pushed through the wall, and we did all the painting on the Family Day long weekend – we had a lot of volunteers come in – and then by Tuesday we were open for business,” she explained.

“We’re thrilled, just thrilled.

“We’ve been open for eight years, and we outgrew our original space quite some time ago. Before, it just felt really small in there. We still have a lot of stuff in storage (that they didn’t previously have room to display) but we’re working on getting it all out here.”

Prior to the renovation, Biggs said the idea of moving to a larger space had been floated from time to time, but the costs were always prohibitive.

“As a non-profit, we have to be very conscious of our overhead costs – and we get a good deal from our landlord here. We didn’t want to move somewhere bigger and end up paying double the rent.”

The thrift store – located at 15562 24 Ave. – is an important part of the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society. The thriving store is responsible for 23 per cent of revenues for the hospice society, Biggs explains – a number that will likely grow as a result of the expansion.

Profits go to help fund more than 20 programs at the hospice – which, Biggs said, are offered free-of-charge to people in the community “during their journey of grief and loss.”

Helping support the hospice society is a big reason why so many volunteers – many of whom have been around since Day 1 – and customers keep coming back.

“Hospice volunteers are a really special breed. They’re very committed,” Biggs said. “We’re like a big extended family.”

Many have also dealt with hospice care of a friend or family member, and know the important role it can play in the community.

“Once people have an experience with the hospice society, it’s almost live-changing. You don’t really know what to do when you’re going through (the grieving process), because we don’t really talk about it, but then you find yourself dealing with a situation where you’re losing someone, it’s overwhelming. It’s important to have someone come up and tell you ‘We’ve got your back,’” she said.

“People that go through that experience, they’re very grateful to have someone to help them through it.”

White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society Thrift Store is open six days a week, Monday though Saturday.

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