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A bigger thrift store for Crossroads Hospice Society

The insulation is exposed, the floors are bare and the walls remain unpainted but Barb Henham scans the new home for the Crossroads Hospice Society thrift store and breathes a sigh of relief.

The insulation is exposed, the floors are bare and the walls remain unpainted but Barb Henham scans the new home for the Crossroads Hospice Society thrift store and breathes a sigh of relief.

"We've been waiting so long for this," the society's executive director said this week, taking in the renovations and the building's potential.

Henham is quick to point out the many features of the Barnet Highway space that was once leased to Carpet World and West Coast Sports, and is expected to open next month.

First - and most importantly - it is double the size of the current Crossroads thrift shop, just a few blocks west at 2565 Barnet Hwy. in Coquitlam.

Outside, there is direct eastbound access from the Barnet plus 15 dedicated parking stalls; inside, there are four dressing rooms and a boutique section near the entrance where the best of the best "gently used merchandise" will be showcased: designer duds, jewellery and high-end curios, for example.

"This is where shoppers will be 'wowed' as soon as they walk in," Henham said, adding, "This won't be just a retail store: It'll be a shopping experience."

As well, there will be more room at the back to sort and prepare donations for sale.

The prospect of moving into a 4,700-square foot location is a bit daunting, said Rose Jonas, thrift store co-ordinator, as everything will be twice as big. As a result, she needs about 50 more volunteers to make the business work.

Currently, 80 people give their time at the existing thrift shop, of which the proceeds go to support the programs and services for the 23-year-old society.

However, Jonas is confident the community will step up to help. "Ninety per cent of our volunteers have stayed with us since we opened seven years ago," she said.

"It's so rewarding to work with the volunteers," Henham added. "They give and they give and they give. It's just amazing."

Henham singled out realtor Ann Soucie, a past chair of the society's annual gala fundraiser, called Treasures for Christmas. Soucie, a former interior decorator, set up the thrift shop and a room at the Port Moody hospice, and she will lend a hand as the new store opens in May.

With a larger space, Henham hopes donors who were turned away due to lack of space will come back.

Typically, the society takes 70 to 100 bags a week in clothing donations and 30 to 40 boxes of small household wares. "Basically, we take until we're full. Then we put up the sign," Jonas said.

Donations that are deemed unacceptable for sale or that haven't moved in the store are generally given to a downtown Vancouver eastside women's shelter, Doctors Without Borders or churches, she said.

Still, the fact that competition is right down the street doesn't faze the society. "You know what? We were here on Barnet first and we have survived the almighty Value Village," Jonas said.

She credits Crossroads' loyal customers, many of whom want to support the organization and flock on sale days: Thrifty Thursdays, where select items are half off, and the first Saturday of each month for Super Savings Saturdays.

"They have a circuit of thrift stores they go to so, for us, the more competition around us, the better," Jonas said.

"It's like a treasure hunt for them," Henham added.

"But it's also because they get quality items at low prices," Jonas said. "And you just can't beat our customer service."

Clothing and small household donations will continue to be accepted at the current Crossroads' thrift store during its operating hours, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To volunteer at the new shop, call Rose Jonas or Sandra Barnett at 604-949-0459 or pop in at 2565 Barnet Hwy. to fill out an application. Volunteers are also required for the move.

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