Opportunity for a makeover
The op shop has been operating for about 30 years.
“It was losing money every week,” says Kenny-Jean Sidwell, one of the newly appointed members of the management committee that oversees the Strathmore and Miramar Community Centres. “When you’re a community centre the bulk of your funding is for projects. Given that the op shop was losing money one of those funders could come back to us and say: ‘How have you been spending our money?’ If we say, ‘Propping up the op shop,’ they could say, ‘Give it back.’”
Sidwell has lived in Strathmore for 24 years and didn’t want to see the shop close, but it was mired in mismanagement, clutter, and, literally, trash – no waste management system had been in place for a long time.
“People used to walk in the door take two steps and stop breathing in deeply because it wasn’t nice.”
However, word got out that closure was imminent and people responded.
“We’re getting a big sense from the community that they want it to be there,” says Sidwell.
Helpful donations started to arrive: a man dropped off two cans of paint. A call for a vacuum cleaner resulted in one arriving magically on the doorstep. Brennan Building Recycling in Lyall Bay offered shelving for $30, instead of the usual $90 price, and local businesses and organisations are buying it – so far, Strathmore Community Church, Sidwell’s twin sister, Rata, and Eastern Suburbs Youth Trust have all purchased a set. Sidwell’s husband, Michael Antipas, planned to pay for new signage, which he purchased at Watermark Signs in Rongotai, but when the bill arrived it read: “$0.00, plus GST.”
“It’s opened up an opportunity for people to give, not just get,” says Sidwell, who’s spent the past three weekends there with a crew of volunteers, cleaning and painting. “I’m really proud to be part of a community that rolls up their sleeves and gets to work.”
The freshly remodeled and renamed “Strathmore Community Store” will have a grand re-opening this Saturday. Volunteers are still needed as the only paid staff has been laid off while the shop gets back on its feet. They’re looking for some carpentry help, as well, not to mention “good quality secondhand goods,” says Pania Lee, another committee member, “And we need people to buy it all!”