By Vivian Moreau
Lorna Van Straaten doesn’t want to see one more ugly sofa.
A half dozen are parked by
the Re-Use-It Centre’s receiving door, Function Junction’s non-profit used
goods store whose $300,000 annual revenue funds 25 local social service
It’s the time of year when
Whistler’s hospitality workers are a moveable feast, leaving town - and all
their possessions - behind. The Re-Use-It Centre’s manager says in order to
avoid dump fees a lot of donated sofas arrive by the Centre’s side door in the
middle of the night.
“And we end up absorbing the
dump fee,” Van Straaten said.
“We’re Whistler’s mommy,”
said Van Straaten, who has been with the centre for seven months. “Kids move
out and drop off their entire household, including their garbage and their
The centre’s eight staff
members sort through items, pricing desirable sporting goods, books, clothing,
computer systems and household goods at bargain prices.
“People that are brand
shoppers come in, take a look and just fall over. A Liz Claiborne jacket for $5
– how can you beat that?” she said.
Run by the Whistler Community
Services Society, Re-Use-It Centre’s profits fund the local food bank,
Christmas hamper program, community kitchen venture and youth outreach
Staffer Tracy Chaepherton
says some epic deals have passed through the centre’s doors.
“There was a new cashmere
sweater that would have been $600 on the rack that some lucky soul got for $6.”
And the $8,000 custom touring bike that went for $25 or the $6,000 diamond ring
that sold for $6.”
But most days it’s the
complete $25 computer system or $40 boots, skis and poles package.
The centre is so successful
it’s had to expand, increasing the clothing section by one-third with
additional racking and adding 200 sq. ft covered outdoor space for furniture.
Whistler Community Services
Society would like to start another re-use-it centre for construction supplies.
In negotiation with the municipality, the society’s interim executive director
says a construction supply recycle centre would save landfill costs for the
resort and continue to allow the society to function independently. Located at
the proposed Callaghan waste transfer station, Greg MacDonnell says the second
re-use-it centre would add to the society’s unique business strategy.
Not associated with any
religious or government organization, MacDonnell said he receives calls from
across organizations across North America wanting to duplicate Whistler’s
“It’s something we’re looking
into, helping others to set up a centre like ours,” he said.