Nu2U volunteers, customers praise non-profit thrift store in Olds

Nu2U volunteers, customers praise non-profit thrift store in Olds

Nu2U volunteers and customers say the Olds site is more than a thrift store — it’s a place to feel safe and share a love of community

OLD – It looks like Nu2U thrift store volunteers and their customers will still be able to meet in the place they love.

That’s because the city that currently owns the facility and the Olds and Olds & District Hospice Society (ODHS) have reached an agreement in principle that the ODHS will operate the store.

This announcement was made on December 15 via a press release.

The city had announced plans to permanently close the store. December 22nd was supposed to be the last day it would be open.

The tentative deal appears to have changed that, although details were sketchy at press time.

Several reasons for the closure were given, including increased competition from other thrift stores, lower-quality donations, declining revenue, and a belief that the city should not compete with private companies.

Councilors were also told that city employees ended up doing things like clearing snow and trips to the landfill, distracting them from their other responsibilities.

Last week some Nu2U volunteers and customers sat down with the Albertan to share what the store means to them.

Tanya Nicholas is one of many volunteers at Nu2U. She has been volunteering there for a number of years.

She said the store proved to be her lifeline and lifted her out of the depression.

“I had medical problems; I haven’t worked for a long time. Then I had trouble forcing myself out of my hole,” Nicholas said.

“I found a place where I could get off and go out before I completely lost my mind,” she added with a quick laugh.

“It was difficult at first. Sometimes I’d miss a week or so because I couldn’t face people. You know, you have these inner struggles with yourself.”

However, after working at Nu2U for a while, “I didn’t have that problem walking out my door anymore.”

Barb Bilida has been a volunteer at the store for eight years.

She said the customers she dealt with all said they found it to be a safe, friendly place with some very good deals.

Bilida gave the example of an older man who came in and wanted to hear a CD he liked, so she played it to him.

She offered to give him a CD to take home and play, but he admitted he didn’t have a CD player. She later felt bad that she hadn’t just given him a CD player.

“If he comes back tomorrow when I’m at work, I’ll tell him I’m going to buy him a CD player,” she said.

“He feels like he can talk to us. And I’m not sure how often that happens. To be honest.

“I’ve been to a thrift store before that didn’t even really greet me when I walked in or when I walked out. I had to go up to them and thank them for allowing me to look around the store.”

Richard Ross joins Nu2U fairly regularly.

“It’s just a neat place,” he said. “If you go in, you are under no obligation (to buy anything). You have a lot of things that a person doesn’t need, that he has to have. And it’s kind of high end. In my eyes it’s kind of a high-end thrift store.”

Cheryl Newton is another very loyal customer, a big fan of the store.

She moved to Olds from BC about three months ago to be with her family.

Newton worked as a youth and family counselor for about 30 years.

“It’s a community within a community,” she said. “People get lost when they have no anchor, no place to go. And that’s what I saw here. And that’s why I kept going there.

“And I love going (there). I see the camaraderie between people who know each other and people who don’t know each other. The teasing, the laughter.”

Bilida said Nu2U’s customers include some Ukrainian refugees.

“They came and got their pots and pans and anything else they needed to help them set up the house,” she said.

Nicholas said many people donate household items to Nu2U because it is non-profit and gives out grants to the community when it can.

She also said the store has recently attracted customers from places as far afield as Calgary and Red Deer.

“It’s not just about what we sell. We give that to every customer. We show them our love, respect and hospitality,” said Bilida.

“At the end of the day, yes, we could be very tired. But you know, it’s a really good tired feeling to know that we’ve helped a lot of other groups.”

Just days after the closure was first announced, the volunteers received many written comments from customers expressing their sadness at the store’s closure.

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