Revamped used clothing store aimed at helping others
Dave Reynolds, front, Iris Tanssot and Mike Fox, of Living Green Barrie, are getting ready for the weekend's official opening of Off the Rack, a shop in downtown Barrie offering low cost and free clothing. The plans also include developing a skills workshop. (J.T. McVeigh Photo)
Give what you’ve got or take what you need.
In the universal language of giving, the new Off the Rack shop wants your skills, or used clothing, to help others.
But if you need to learn how to sew or knit, or need clothes for your family, they’ll happily help you with that, too.
Mike Fox of Living Green Barrie has re-opened the used clothing store just off the parking lot at Toronto Street and Dunlop Street West, behind the Meineke Oil Change shop.
“The old store was dark and dingy and things were all over the place,” said Fox, adding they closed, painted and re-jigged the direction of the store.
“We’re going to focus exclusively on clothes now, and lose the lampshades and mom’s old paintings,” he said.
Started by Valerie Scriver under the Barrie Free Clothing and Nifty Thrifty moniker three years ago, Fox said they closed it down last spring, enlarged and renovated it, and will be officially open for business Saturday.
Officially, that is, because customers are already flipping through the rooms of neatly organized clothing.
One large room has a sign above the door that reads ‘Free’ and on the wall inside the script reads, ‘Don’t leave empty-handed.’
“Everything in there is free,” he said pointing to the racks of clothing. “And out here, it’s pay what you can afford. I mean, if you can afford it great. But if you can’t, it’s a pay what you can system.”
The brightly coloured teal and apple green walls in the retail portion of shop give way to back rooms with large sewing tables and a dozen bins of fabric and wool that will be re-purposed into items as customers learn to take advantage of the sewing or knitting groups Fox envisions.
“We’re calling it the re-skill institute and hoping those who can and know how to sew or knit will offer their skills to teach others how to do it,” he said. He expects some will sew or knit items for consignment in the fall.
Behind the office, a large sorting room is being organized, and there’s a winter clothing room that’s already received many donations.
There’s a large kitchen-cum-boardroom in the back for use by non-for-profit groups who require a free place to meet.
In its last incarnation, store manager, Dave Reynolds, said the clientele ranged in age from teens to seniors.
“And we’re really happy to see families, too,” said Reynolds. As a father himself, he said he was surprised to see the high cost of children’s clothes at the malls during the back-to-school sales.
“The kids clothing was almost as much as the adults,” he said.
Reynolds said they have free clothing for children, as well as stock for all ages.
“We’re really seeing a great diversity of people coming in,” he said.
To donate your gently used clothing, or volunteer your time or sewing skills, visit the Off the Rack store between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.