New to You reopens. (File photo)

New to You reopens. (File photo)

New to You reopens

Volunteers return to the thrift store so the community can shop and donate again

New to You is open again with reduced hours and a few rules for shoppers to follow.

The thrift store run by the Bulkley Valley District Hospital Auxiliary closed about two months ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spokesperson Gisela Varga said it reopened last Tuesday and so far the opening has been going well.

“We wanted to open a while ago but we couldn’t because of the virus. We wanted to ensure all the COVID-19 rules could be followed,” she said.

The store has reduced their hours and are now only open Tuesday through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Mondays by appointment only. The change rooms and bathrooms have been closed. They are also limiting the store to six customers at a time for an hour. People are also asked to shop alone.

Varaga added that most of the volunteers were comfortable coming back in to work but some have decided to wait a little longer.

Varga said so far customers are following the rules.

“We are grateful for all the people who are supporting us,” she added. “All the money we make goes to the hospital to buy equipment.”

They have also started accepting donations again but Varga said a lot of people are dropping off things that are not sellable.

“It is frustrating because it makes our garbage pick up high,” she said. “We pay a lot for garbage pick up. If you aren’t going to buy, no one else will. If it isn’t good enough for you to buy, don’t bring it to us.”

Meanwhile Health Service Administrator at Northern Health Authority Cormac Hikisch is happy to see the store open again and said it is a sign of a strong non-profit organization.

“The proceeds go to hospital equipment,” he explained. “We sit down with the auxiliary two or three times a year and go through equipment priorities and the auxiliary chooses which pieces of equipment they want to support. Since COVID hit, we haven’t had that wish list conversation because they’ve been closed and we can’t meet in big groups. Has there been a direct impact? No, but certainly as a local hospital and as Northern Health we recognize this year will be different and we potentially will have to make different decisions, as are all, to recover.”

He added that their partnership is for the long haul and he told them not to feel pressured from the health system to reopen.

“The decision to reopen is theirs with the safety of their volunteers and shoppers in mind. We’ve made it clear to the auxiliary that the decision was theirs and we are very grateful and supportive but we did not want them to feel pressured. Our partnership isn’t going away and this is just a small blip and we will get through it,” he said.

“Aside from the fundraising aspect, New to You is an important part of the community for people in the Bulkley Valley looking for cost-effective things to buy and also for people who want to donate. It is an incredible service to the community.”

The gift shop at BVDH, which is also run by the auxiliary, is not yet open.

Smithers