Angela Krueger, Whitehorse Community Thrift Store steering committee member, left, and Kathie Murphy, pop-up coordinator, pose for a photo with their inventory for a potential permanent thrift shop in Whitehorse on Aug. 9.(Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse volunteers turn to GoFundMe to raise cash for thrift store

The Whitehorse Community Thrift Store is hoping to raise $70,000 in ‘seed money’

A group of Whitehorse volunteers has turned to online crowdfunding in an effort to raise enough money to open a new thrift store in the city.

The Whitehorse Community Thrift Store, which recently incorporated as a society and got a business licence, has been holding well-attended pop-up thrift events in Whitehorse this year. Steering committee member Angela Krueger said the society’s ultimate goal is to set up a thrift shop in a permanent, physical location, but to do that, it first needs to come up with enough cash.

That’s why the Whitehorse Community Thrift Store has turned to popular online crowdfunding platform GoFundMe. The society is aiming to raise at least $70,000, which Krueger said is the amount needed to help cover the first year’s rent at a permanent location and pay a staff member to coordinate the effort. Currently, everything is volunteer-run.

“We do want to be sustainable. We don’t want to get up and running and realize six months later we can’t pay our bills.… We want to set up and have Whitehorse trust us, that we’re going to be there for the long-term and be able to build a relationship with the community,” she said in an interview Aug. 9.

As of the morning of Aug. 10, the GoFundMe campaign, which has been active for about two weeks, has raised $4,180, or about seven per cent of its goal. Crowdfunding is the society’s main method of raising funds at the moment, but Krueger said its open to “donations from organizations, businesses, grants, leads, anything like that to help us get that $70,000.” The society also received $10,000 this April from the Yukon Innovation Prize.

If successful in setting up shop, the Whitehorse Community Thrift Store won’t be Whitehorse’s first — in fact, the idea and subsequent organizing was born out of the ashes of the city’s last thrift store and the gap volunteers thought it left behind.

Up until last spring, the Salvation Army operated its own thrift store on Fourth Avenue for decades. It was forced to close for good in April 2017 after years of not being able to make a profit and also, in part, because of people constantly dropping off unusable goods at its doors.

According to a recent press release from the Whitehorse Community Thrift Store, a feasibility study the society commissioned found that a thrift store in Whitehorse would be sustainable once properly established. Krueger said the society is also focusing on “educating the public” about what it envisions a thrift store to be, in an effort to avoid ending up with the same issues that contributed to the closure of the Salvation Army’s store as well as two free stores.

“The way we’re planning on doing it … we will hopefully only be taking in things that are affordable, in good quality, in good shape and are re-sellable and useful for anybody else,” Krueger said. “We want to repurpose things, we want to recycle things. We don’t want to be a place where everybody just takes their unwanted goods, we want to be intentional about what we take in and what we put out to the community, because part of our mandate is waste diversion.”

At the moment, Krueger said that the permanent location’s opening is entirely dependent on when the society raises the $70,000. Until then, it will be sticking to pop-up events to help clear out the inventory of goods its already collected. The next one will take place Aug. 15 at NVD place, where shoppers will be asked to pay a $2 entry fee and then take whatever they like.

People interested in donating to the Whitehorse Community Thrift Store’s GoFundMe campaign can do so by visiting gofundme.com/love-2-thrift-yukon. Yukoners interested in donating items to the store or volunteering are asked to contact organizers at facebook.com/Love2ThriftYukon.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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