After nearly a decade, NightShift Street Ministries’ thrift shop will close its doors at the end of February.
It’s a sign of the times: Though rental and operational costs for storefronts rise, revenues from second-hand clothing do not.
“We took a chance coming up to Guildford to try and reinvent ourselves in a better retail location but the rental market, you know, rents are high,” said Angie Paulson, who has run Sisters Thrift Boutique for NightShift for nine of the 10 years it’s been operational.
“With no true marketing as a non-profit — as a non-profit, marketing is off the table — we just haven’t been as successful as we would’ve hoped to have been,” she added.
The charity had hoped high foot traffic and high-density housing in the Guildford location, at 14888 104th Avenue, would mean more exposure.
“The current climate has just made it not the right time for us,” said Paulson. “We have to be diligent and we certainly don’t want to be in a position of costing the ministry money, so it’s time. Time for a new change and a refocus for them.”
In an email to customers, Paulson said it is with “heavy hearts” the charity announces the local thrift destination will close.
NightShift Street Ministries now intends to focus “on its core vision of outreach, counselling and education in our community.”
The first iteration of the store was a “down and dirty” second-hand shop. It operated out of a building across from the Surrey Food Bank before moving to the charity’s home base.
But it made the move from Whalley to Guildford in 2015 to free up much-needed space in the ministry’s King George Boulevard headquarters.
It wasn’t your average thrift shop, with Paulson and others priding themselves on high-end items – think consignment-level attire, with thrift store pricing. They even showcased their selections online and created an app for customers to browse. Guess, Lululemon and other name brands often graced the hangers there.
“It was great,” said Paulson, reflecting back on her nine years running the shop. “It was such a community effort, it was great to be involved in the community and be a part of the community.
“You make lots of connections with people,” she added. “I’ve enjoyed it. We gave it our best shot. Now (NightShift) is going to just focus on what they’re here to do.”
The timing made sense for Paulson, who is looking forward to starting a new chapter in life. Paulson and her husband had plans to “move to the bush” this year, and with Sisters closing, the timing is right.
“Ten acres, with goats and chickens,” she smiled.
Paulson’s email has been flooded with kind words from customers since word spread of the plans to close.
“It feels good to know that you matter,” she said, laughing.
“There’s a lot of customers, you know, you become very fond of and will miss,” she added. “The community was the biggest part of it. We were never really about making huge amounts of money, we were always about having a purpose, and doing good and recycling clothing.”
When Sisters closes, the charity’s donation clothing bins will come off the street as well, but donations will still be accepted at NightShift’s Whalley headquarters, located at 10635 King George Blvd.