At 9am on Tuesday, The Salvation Army’s new Thrift Store opened at the site of the old Shop Easy Foods (#213 Jasper Street). It took a mammoth volunteer effort to get the building ready for the “soft opening”. Shortly after the door slid open, the News-Times got first impressions from shoppers. It proved to be love at first sight.
For Bill Palmer, the new Thrift Store in Jasper Street is a gift to the community.
It is spacious like a Walmart, easy to get around, full of diverse items, and – perhaps most important of all – simple to enter and exit. As a wheelchair-user, accessibility, of course, is crucial to him.
Getting in the old Pacific Avenue Thrift Store posed an enormous challenge.
How could he negotiate the steps?
How could he squeeze through the narrow doorway?
It made more sense, he says, to let his wife Millie enter the store, armed with a list of his wants and needs. Now he has no such concerns, thanks to automatic doors and the single-level entrance and retailing area.
His independence has been enhanced overnight.
“It’s awesome,” he said after entering the store shortly after it opened at 9am on a wintry Tuesday, with outside temperatures plunging to -26.
“It’s great for the community, and for anybody that needs accessibility it’s wonderful.
“The money that’s raised here will help people in need, so it’s a win, win win.”
Palmer likes to volunteer whenever he sees a need.
Being able to move in and out of the new Thrift Store meant he could join the huge effort to get it ready in time for Tuesday’s soft opening.
“My job was to sit with a clicker and put prices on things,” he said. “I was told what the prices would be.”
The Palmers have no doubt they made the right decision to come to Maple Creek in 2016 from Penticton, British Columbia.
“We love it here, it’s a great community,” said Bill.
Now the couple have an accessible thrift store near their home, Maple Creek has just got even better.
“We can come in once in a while and see what’s new,” said Bill.
The Rev. Michele Rowe, pastrix at Maple Creek United Church, was one of the first customers through the door on Tuesday.
She was thrilled with what greeted her.
“It’s beautiful, it’s open, it’s bright, it’s accessible to people with mobility challenges, and it’s bringing the community together,” she said. “There are volunteers from different communities of faith and all walks of life that have been brought together, united in the opening of this wonderful new store. It’s a great thing for our community.”
Sarah Entz, from Cypress Hutterite Colony, agreed with the Rev. Rowe’s assessment.
“It’s beautiful, nice and roomy,” she said.
It was Sarah’s colony that built the new store’s stainless steel/aluminum checkout counter.
Joy Anderson recalled when #213 Jasper Street was a grocery store. The building then lay empty for several years.
“I am so happy for The Salvation Army that they were able to fix this up and move in. It’s great. There is much more space here than at the other building.”
Anderson liked the layout of products.
“I think the new store is wonderful,” she said.
Claire Pollock said she was blown away by the look of the building.
“The work that has been done by the volunteers and Major Ed (Dean) from The Salvation Army is amazing. The transformation in the building is excellent for Maple Creek.
“I am glad to see Major Ed being supported on the opening. It may be cold outside, but our hearts are warm.”
Speaking an hour after opening, Major Ed said he was delighted with the response from the public.
After closing for the day, The Salvation Army put a post on its Facebook page.
“What a day. Thank you Maple Creek!”