By Lyonel Doherty
You just never know what you’ll find at the hospital auxiliary thrift shop in Oliver.
But let’s hope nobody else drops off a raw turkey.
That’s probably the strangest thing anyone has ever left at “The Boutique” on Kootenay Street.
Reportedly a man left the raw bird outside the shop in hot weather because he was moving and didn’t know what to do with it.
“I guess some think we are a food bank too,” said volunteer Sandy Jones, who handles public relations.
As most people know, the highly popular boutique raises money for local hospitals and health-related projects.
In 1942 Oliver’s hospital (St. Marten’s) and the ladies auxiliary began their mission; the first fundraiser (selling fruits and vegetables) provided cribs for the hospital.
In 1943, sales from accumulated donations and projects totaled $62.72. In 1980 a combined total of $35,000 was raised. In 2016, the auxiliary and partners raised nearly $194,000.
Today there are 80 members, 65 of whom are active. Jones said they would like to see younger people get involved.
Members who are not active at the thrift shop are involved in other ways, such as knitting for the hospital’s baby showcase. Other volunteers are involved in the “Dinners at Home” program.
The auxiliary also comes to the aid of people in need, in particular disaster relief victims impacted by fires. The ladies also support Desert Sun Counselling and Resource Centre, the Oliver library book sale, Third World countries (quilts and eyeglasses) and clothes to Moldova.
Jones said the auxiliary appreciates the Oliver community for all the donations that enable the group to help so many people.
The boutique is a very busy place, especially when people drop off donated items (by the truck load), such as clothing, dolls, books, VHS cassettes, jewelry, electronics, dishes and sewing equipment.
The boutique is so popular that some people line up outside the door prior to opening in the morning.
“Some people come in every single day, some twice a day,” Jones said.
The best selling items are crafts, sewing equipment and clothing, some of which sport designer labels.
“Lots of times we don’t have a chance to hang it up before they (shoppers) take it out of your hands.”
As you can imagine, the thrift shop sees many unique items that have some value.
This is where convenor Sandy Knippelberg comes in. She researches these items online and prices them accordingly, but normally below their true value.
Knippelberg said she enjoys researching anything that “looks neat” or old.
For example, they once sold a Vogue magazine for $25, and an antique picture frame for $75. A guitar and speakers went for $100, and a brass ashtray stand also fetched $100.
“It’s really neat stuff,” Knippelberg said.
Recently someone donated a bunch of exclusive collector dish plates featuring Oliver landmarks.
Jones said children are quite amazed at what the shop has and often stand there with a wishful look on their faces.
“We just learned from one of our veteran cashiers that a couple of mothers came in and left their children there for her to babysit while they went shopping elsewhere.”
Besides finding a lot of family photographs tucked inside books, volunteers find passports, birth certificates and citizenship papers in boxes of items that are dropped off.
The boutique at 5928 Kootenay Street is open Wednesday to Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm, and on Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm.
People who want to volunteer, can call 250-498-3936.