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Port Coquitlaml's Thrift-Opolis sells memories and thrift

Baby boomers getting finger cramps from texting and information overload from their IPADs may want to take a step back to a time when life moved at a human pace not digital speeds.

Baby boomers getting finger cramps from texting and information overload from their IPADs may want to take a step back to a time when life moved at a human pace not digital speeds.
There is a place in Port Coquitlam where phones still hang on walls, butter is churned by hand, toys are simple to operate, radios need tuning, cameras need film and the good china is saved for Sunday dinner.
It's not your grandmother's house but rather a unique Port Coquitlam thrift store that is selling second hand goods that are more memory-makers than merchandise.
"When people come around, they see their childhood," acknowledged Hal Merritt, who started up the store with his wife Vanda Cooper in a small retail boutique on PoCo's north side.
The store blends thrift-store bargains with unique collectibles and Merritt and Cooper hope to find a niche for themselves among the charity thrift stores and the big box retailers that have cropped up along Lougheed Highway over the years.
Take a tour of the small store, located at D-2579 Lougheed Highway., and you'll see your life flash before your eyes if you're a certain age. There are vintage Barbie dolls, rhinestone broaches and screw-backed earrings your mama wore, a mint-condition transistor radio and dishes that would look not out of place in June and Ward Cleaver's home. You'll also find some more obscure finds dating back to the Victorian era - such as a choker-necklace made of intricately-woven hair, as well as craft materials, fishing gear, toys and tools.
"We want to create an emporium for secondhand goods," explained Merritt, who has owned various thrift and collectible businesses over the years.
This latest foray comes at a time when thrift and clothing consignment stores are experiencing a renaissance thanks to the reuse and recycle crowd and cash-strapped families wanting to stretch their dollar.
There is no shame in buying from thrift stores any more - if there ever was. "My family was brought up shopping at thrift stores. We were a working class family and it was just part of us," Merritt says.
To enhance his stock of re-usable clothing and household items he's asking people to drop off their used items and he will donate the value of the goods to KidSport, an organization that subsidizes kids' sports.
He has already contributed $150 to the cause and plans to make monthly donations.
"We believe in KidSport and we want to make sure we are giving back to the community," he said.
Merritt will also pay for some special items, such as vintage toys, jewelry, cameras and radios. But book an appointment, so he can provide a proper appraisal.
He can tell you about his glass and china collections which were manufactured between the 1930s and 1960s and astute collectors might recognize his jadeite Fire King coffee mugs and collection of iridescent Carnival glass (named because there were given away as carnival prizes). There area also magazines dating back to the 1950s and 1960s and vintage license plates that would make great gifts. Kids like the toys, he says, and the jewelry is affordable.
"It's kind of a place that appeals to everybody," he says, noting that the name Thrift-Opolis was chosen to reflect the couples' vision of a place people could go to spend hours picking through thrift goods and memorabilia.
"We think big," he says, pointing to the boldly named Aisle 73, and if the Tri-Cities' thrift and collectible market is as big as he thinks it is, he may one day have a store large enough to justify his optimism.
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