Donations piling up as some Manitoba thrift shops reopen under new rules

By | May 25, 2020

Thrift stores say they are being overwhelmed with donations as they begin reopening with new rules in place across Manitoba.

Due to the pandemic, for some time second-hand shops such as Value Village were not accepting any donations, at a time when people were at home, cleaning out their closets.

Now that the province has started reopening for business, the district manager for Value Village says three stores in Winnipeg reopened on May 12, and the two remaining ones will reopen tomorrow.

“We’re really excited for the public to come and see our stores. It looks a lot different than how it used to look, and that’s like everybody’s saying the ‘new normal’ and we’re hoping to keep it clean [and] safe,” manager Anil Nayar said.

Nayar says the open locations have already welcomed two to three times the “normal” amount of donated items they would normally receive in that time.

“We expect that to grow over the next while as the public is made aware that we’re open,” he said.

Nayar says the donation centre has set up strict protocols with the items. Donations with a hard surface are wiped down, and clothing, shoes and items with upholstery go into quarantine for 48 hours.

“We are making sure that we disinfect it with proper disinfectant before it goes out to the sales floor,” he said.

For safety reasons due to risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, the centres are not accepting cribs or crib mattresses and large items such as couches, beds or dressers because they require more than one person to move them.

“The reason for that is because anything that does require a two-person lift would obviously have those two people not social distancing,” he said.

Thrift stores have been closed, but many people have been cleaning out closets while home due to the pandemic. (Summerside Salvation Army Thrift Store/Facebook)

At the donation centre, personal protective gear such as a face shield, gloves and a hand sanitizer station are available to staff.

Upon arrival, donors will drive over an air bell, and an employee will direct them to safely help them unload donations into a rolling bin, then they are offered a coupon for the store.

People are being asked not to leave items on the ground outside.

“Unfortunately what happens is when those items are left there, they do get scavenged, there’s pretty much a mess left out there, so we didn’t want that happening.”

As the province gradually reopens, the chief provincial public health officer is reminding people to respect group sizes and physical distancing when it comes to second-hand sales. When asked about garage sales at a news conference on Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin warned Manitobans to be extra careful.

“Then you’re going to have these frequently touched surfaces, objects that add a little bit to the risk,” Roussin said.

“Be cautious with it, certainly the orders don’t prohibit it, given the group sizes and it’s outdoors. But I would instill a bit of caution to make sure you’re washing hands frequently and that there isn’t crowding taking place,” he said.

Value Village locations at Winnipeg’s Nairn Avenue and Portage Avenue in the Unicity area will be reopening on Tuesday.

The stores on Pembina Highway, Ellice and Jefferson avenues are already open to the public.

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