The last two years have been a struggle for the Comox Valley Transition Society. A fire in January, 2019 destroyed the Too Good To Be Threw thrift store, which had been the main source of income for the organization that supports women, children and families. The CVTS opened a pair of smaller thrift stores in Courtenay, but business has been a struggle since the coronavirus hit.
“We’re scraping by,” executive director Heather Ney said. “It’s put a real dent in things. The community certainly recognizes that, and has been very generous with donations. We’re managing but I’m a bit concerned with the COVID thing.”
At the same time, she is heartened by the possibility of rebuilding the thrift store at its former location on Sixth Street in downtown Courtenay. The city has received a development permit application to rebuild at 367/379 6th St. The property is owned by Sea Mountain Investments of White Rock. The CVTS is the tenant.
“We definitely want to go back to that location,” Ney said. “That has always been our intention…I have given some thought to operating two stores.”
Though the building layout wasn’t perfect, Ney said the original location was ideal. She is, however, concerned about what might happen with the former Thrifty Foods across the street. When it was open, Too Good To Be Threw benefitted from parking that had been available.
Following the fire, the society opened a thrift store on Puntledge Road across from Value Village and another on 5th Street downtown. Ney said the two smaller locations have been costly to operate but have not collectively generated as much revenue, which she attributes to location and parking. Smaller spaces have also prevented the sale of certain items such as furniture.
There were some temporary layoffs after the fire, but all staff members were eventually recalled, albeit with fewer hours.
“I’ve always been proud of the thrift store, and the fact that is has created some decent retail jobs, and some with benefits that often are difficult for women to find,” Ney said.
Besides the thrift store, the society’s biggest fundraiser has been the annual Coldest Night of the Year event, which will be held virtually this year from Feb. 12-21.
During COVID, the CVTS has received some extra assistance from funders.
The society has also opened an agency fund with the Comox Valley Community Foundation, through which the public can donate.