Op Shopping in Nelson has never been better. A couple of decades ago, I would periodically visit my parents in Canada, and a fringe benefit was stocking up on clothes at op shops in Victoria. Victoria (sometimes called the tropics of Canada) is the is the final resting place of many frostbitten Canadians; people with good gear, and, of course, their gear ended up in Op Shops.
I no longer visit Canada, but great Op Shops have come to Nelson. At least half a dozen spring to mind, and in every one of them, you’ll find people motivated by the highest ideals. I’m writing about Habitat for Humanity’s, ‘Restore’, because I got to know it during frequent droppings off of props being turfed out to make space for my resurgent dried flower production.
Restore achieves good in a multitude of ways:
Profits go to Habitat for Humanity projects.
Upskilling and enriching the lives of volunteers.
Providing essentials at affordable prices.
Nelson’s Restore has exceeded expectations. When it first opened, the committee thought that they may need to sublet a part of their premises. Four years down the track it’s quite the opposite. They’re considering expanding to a second site to accommodate home renovation materials. In round figures, their surplus funds the building of one new home in Nelson every year.
They’re a happy crew at Restore. I’ve always encountered bubbly enthusiasm whether dropping off, or buying. Currently there’s five paid staff and about forty volunteers. Three of the paid staff started as volunteers.
The paid staff ensure that the volunteers are properly trained and deployed in roles for which they are best suited. Restore has done and continues to do a power of good making some of the younger volunteers employment ready.
Volunteer work is a pathway to paid employment. At Restore, there’s experience to be gained in a number of areas, such as: deliveries, stock management, and online sales. Volunteering can be a way of overcoming the hurdle of not being able to get a job because you’ve never had a job. A stint of unpaid work jumps off the page of a CV and into the good books of prospective employers. That’s not to mention the deep-down benefit of feeling worthwhile, an intangible which can’t help but shine through in a job interview.
The blur behind Becky is Jan Frazer.
Jan started as a volunteer, but is now a permanent staff member
Restores Nelson manager, Becky Wyatt, says “If people want to help us, we will find a way for them to help us”. As a consequence, the job of the paid staff is more directing volunteers, rather than doing the work themselves. This virtuous interdependency lifts both the pupil and the teacher.
Restore has a policy of keeping essentials very affordable (sheets, kitchenware, toys), but charges properly for luxuries. This dual pricing policy enables them to assist those in need, while still earning enough to make a healthy contribution to Habitat for Humanity’s work.
Collette Davies who helps me in the garden, dried flowers, and the Christmas trees is also a solo mum to two boys at expensive stages in their lives. As a customer, she has nothing but praise for Restore. Starting with the friendly, helpful staff, the orderly layout of the shop, the great prices, and their seven day guarantee.
I can personally vouch for the Restore reducing waste. For years redundant Eyebright fittings have clogged up my shed because “they might come in useful one day”. They were making my shed a mess, and I needed space. Hence my trips to Restore. It’s been a win for me, a win for Habitat for Humanity, and a win for the buyers.
Thirty-six- year-old Becky Wyatt’s road to being manager of the Nelson Restore started with her discontent at Adelaide Casino. She felt disappointed that she was working at something that had a negative impact on society, and tried to offset the feeling by volunteering at the Oxfam Fair Trade Shop.
In 2010 she moved to New Zealand to start work at the Christchurch Trade Aid shop, where she also found employment with the Red Cross. A few months later the first earthquake hit, then the big one in February 2011 saw the closure of both the Trade Aid and Red Cross stores. She stayed on in Christchurch for a while before moving to Nelson to set up the Richmond Red Cross store, and then eventually moving back to Christchurch to open the new Trade Aid shop in Merivale.
In 2015 she again moved to Nelson where she initially worked at the State Cinema, before landing the managers job at our yet-to-be-opened Restore.
Most of her career has been in Not-for-Profit organisations. She say’s “You don’t do that for the great hours, or high pay. You get paid in so many other ways”. Everyday Becky has opportunities to make positive impacts on other people’s lives.