Awesome New Neighbourhood Thrift Store Staffed By and Benefits At-Risk Youth

Fabulous fashion at bargain prices, an inclusive and body positive philosophy, free books, a new rag-processing operation, and hopes to expand.

Neighbourhood Thrift Store at 38 Pearson Street, a used clothing store which sells its well-curated goods at low, flat rate prices per item (jeans, for example, are all five bucks), has sold 8,492 items of clothing since it August 2018 opening.

Employee retention at the store, which is staffed by and directly benefits at-risk youth, is at 100 percent. Everything is coming up roses for Mari-Lynn Taylor and Chelsey MacNeil at the Choices For Youth social enterprise department. They’re the creators of the project.

As the current and former owners of Model Citizens respectively, Taylor and MacNeil are knowledgeable about vintage resale. Youth are taught more than just retail skills at the store; they also learn about fashion. This includes brand knowledge, fabric recognition, trend forecasting, and the like.

While they prefer to keep the store’s wares strictly to clothing and accessories (save for books , which are free), they are encouraging people to donate old towels, t-shirts, and other low fashion but high cotton content bits they may have laying around. They will be recycling these into bulk rags.

Health and wellbeing are a focus at Choices For Youth, a multifaceted organization dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk youth.

To that end, Neighbourhood chose to ditch the usual size 0 mannequins, which don’t reflect the true range of healthy body shapes and sizes. Instead, they use creative display techniques. Clothing presentation and rack organization are gender neutral as well. A dress is simply a dress, not “women’s wear.”

For young families struggling to keep up with the winter’s heat bills and still keep food on the table, the one dollar price tag on all children’s clothes is a blessing.

With the success of the shop, there’s talk of expansion, though the team is still deciding what that will look like. Taylor hopes it will mean new Neighbourhood stores in rural areas.

Within the Pearson location, the hope is also to expand the clientele of the store to include people who may not have shopped thrift before. The environmental value of buying used, added to the social benefit of supporting Choices For Youth, are big motivators to check it out, but the quality selection at the store stands on its own as a reason to visit.

Donations of gently used  clothes are welcome.

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