By Sue Tiffin
The Anglican Parish of Minden, Kinmount and Maple Lake is filling a once-empty space on Minden’s main street while also working toward filling a greater need in the community.
Bountiful Blessings, an upscale secondhand shop opened earlier this season, offers a shopping experience for unique finds, and helps support a gathering space at the back of the shop for anyone who requires a place to meet, get together, have a coffee or engage in an activity such as an art or music lesson or knitting circle at little to no cost. Organized and run by volunteers through the churches – St. Peter’s in Maple Lake, St. James in Kinmount and St. Paul’s in Minden – the shop offers a wide assortment of goods from books, DVDs, electronics, kitchen utensils, candles, antiques, Pyrex cookware, Willow Tree figurines, bikes, even a baby pram just like the one Kate Middleton uses. Proceeds raised in the front of the store will help fund programs in the back.
“This is a secondhand shop run by the church and all the proceeds that are raised will go back into programming,” said Reverend Canon Joan Cavanaugh-Clark. “This is what we hope, this is what we pray for.”
The idea for the downtown shop came after Cavanaugh-Clark took a course on ethnographic research, and wanted to offer more opportunities in the community.
“We need to do something in the heart of the village, we need to do something that there’s a donation basket out, but people will have the opportunity to come into a relationship with Christ, no strings attached,” she said. “And what can we offer in this community, particularly to the poor, the marginalized, the working poor.”
As an involved community member, Cavanaugh-Clark is well-aware of the challenges people in the community face with inadequate or costly housing, unemployment or underemployment, the cost of living and poverty, noting several instances of fellow local residents who have experienced significantly difficult times even with two working adults in a household.
“The whole premise is to provide something in the community for those who don’t have it, to encourage people’s self-respect, and to say to kids, you’re important. We’re going to teach you how to knit, how to draw, whatever the case may be.”
The secondhand shop won’t replace the popular thrift shop on Invergordon Ave. run by St. Paul’s Anglican Church.
“We engaged in the thrift shop for one particular reason, to fill a need in a community where 64.4 per cent of the children live in poverty,” said Cavanaugh-Clark. “I had a lady come in a couple of years ago, and she said to me, your thrift shop is the first time in my kids’ life – they were in Grade 4 and 5 – that they ever had two pairs of shoes, because I couldn’t afford anything else.”
For years, proceeds from the thrift shop have helped to support groups, including Places for People, Fuel for Warmth and individuals needing help with anything from braces for children’s teeth, to repairs that enable people to avoid car breakdowns on the way to work.
“Our mandate at the church is to quietly, unobtrusively, we don’t need credit, is just to have a thrift shop where nothing unless it was brand new was over $8,” said Cavanaugh-Clark. “We’ve been extremely successful in that.”
While the thrift shop has been closed since March, as the space does not allow for social distancing, Bountiful Blessings is open for business, with the possibility – COVID-19 restrictions allowing – for individuals or groups to use the back space in a way that ultimately gives back to the community.
“The sky’s the limit,” said Cavanaugh-Clark. “But ultimately it’s to bring the presence of Christ to the heart of the village.”
Bountiful Blessings is open from Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 105 Bobcaygeon Road in Minden.