Second-hand stores expect large volume of donations as they prepare to reopen

As the province begins a new phase of its recovery from COVID-19, second-hand stores are starting to consider how to run a business that relies on donated items that might contain germs.

Stephanie Wagner, manager of Hospice Boutique in Fredericton, is marking the floor of her shop for physical distancing and installing Plexiglas at the cash. 

She hasn’t set a firm date for reopening, but said it will be within the next two weeks. 

“We’re definitely excited to get our customers back and get our donors back and our staff and our volunteers back,” Wagner said.

On Friday, the government announced it was moving into Phase 2 of its recovery plan, allowing businesses, museums and campgrounds to reopen. 

This is what can reopen in New Brunswick under the new recovery phase according to premier Blaine Higgs. 4:08

Wagner closed her store on March 16. 

She’s expecting a rush of donations when she reopens her doors. That’s why she’s decided that donors will have to book an appointment before dropping items off at the boutique. 

Hospice Boutique is also planning to set up a donation station under a tent outside the shop to help limit the number of people coming into the store.

“Everyone wants to purge their winter items, or their summer items, that they don’t want anymore. So it’s a big season for us anyway, and I think everyone’s had this month and a half to really stockpile, so I feel it could be a very, very busy time for us.”

Donated items will be placed inside a storage container and quarantined for a couple weeks before being made available in the store. 

Clothes will be steamed, washed and dried before they’re put on the shelf. 

ReStore, a second-hand store in Moncton offering housewares, electronics and hardware, has been closed since March 18. It plans to reopen on May 19. 

Chantal Landry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, which operates ReStore, said the shop is stocking up on hand sanitizer, soap and gloves for staff and customers.

ReStore will have to use disposable gloves and sanitize lunchrooms, cash registers and bathrooms multiple times a day. Any time a staff member moves from the backroom to the front, they’ll have to change their gloves, Landry said.

Chantal Landry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, said she’s expecting a rush of donations when she reopens on May 19. (Denis Mazerolle/CBC )

She expects staff will go through dozens of gloves and masks each week.

“It’s hard to predict exactly how many will go through because obviously there will be certain staff with certain responsibilities as far as sanitizing.”

Since ReStore doesn’t have the capacity to hire more staff or volunteers, Landry said the shop will reopen with reduced hours.

The shop will be accepting donations when it reopens, but it will delay donation pickups from homes in order to stagger the volume of items in the store.

“People have been dropping off donations while we’ve been closed, so we will have to handle those donations as well.”

Melissa Ellis, owner of Out of the Closet, a consignment store in Bathurst, has decided not to take on new consigners when she reopens Wednesday.

Her 950 square-foot store is divided into rooms, which will make physical distancing tricky, she said.

Here’s what will open in Phase 2 of New Brunswick’s pandemic recovery. (CBC News)

It will be mandatory for customers to wash their hands upon entering her store and after trying on clothing. They will be provided with masks.

Ellis has also decided to limit the number of people in the store to four, including herself, and she’s cutting back her hours to allow for extra cleaning time.  

She will have to drive to another community to purchase hand sanitizer for her customers, as there’s little available in Bathurst. She’s happy to go the extra mile, however.

“I haven’t really done the math, but to keep myself and the people safe, I’m OK spending that little extra.”

Ellis is wary of reopening, but she trusts the government is making the right decision. 

“I’m actually a little fearful, but I really believe in [Dr.] Jennifer Russell.”

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