thrift stores open

Thrift stores are now open in Canada and here's what's different

Thrift stores are now open in Canada, but these businesses that rely on the donations of used clothes and household items have been taking some extra precautions.

Value Village, Goodwill and Salvation Army are among the second-hand chains across the country that are now accepting donations and welcoming shoppers into stores.

Five Salvation Army Thrift Stores in Winnipeg are open for shopping, and 36 Donor Welcomes Centres across Manitoba, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Ontario are open to accept donations, according to May Strutt, communications specialist.

Even more Donor Welcome Centres and Thrift Stores will continue phased re-openings over the coming weeks.

A number of new measures are in place at the stores including personal protective equipment for all employees (including gloves, masks and face shields), using a single point of entry and exit, limiting capacity, providing hand sanitizer stations, using directional floor stickers and increasing aisle width, more frequent cleaning, and using Plexiglass barriers at the checkouts. 

The Salvation Army’s Nairn and Fort Garry thrift stores in Winnipeg, Man., have now reopened for shopping.⁣ ⁣ In partnership with the local public health authority, Salvation Army thrift stores are beginning the reopening process in select locations.⁣ ⁣ As reopening plans continue, please hold onto your donations at home. The need for affordable clothing and household items will be higher than ever in the weeks ahead, as the financial impact of the pandemic continues to affect millions of Canadians.⁣ ⁣ Stay up-to-date on Salvation Army thrift store reopening plans in your area. ⁣ ⁣ Subscribe to the @sathriftstore email newsletter at

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Fitting rooms and washrooms in the stores will also be closed for the time being and exchanges will be accepted for clothing items only.

Strutt says donations can be dropped off in bins outside the centres between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday – centres are currently not accepting furniture or non-perishable food items and all donations are being held in quarantine for four days before going to the sales floor.

"The need for affordable clothing and household items will be higher than ever in the days, weeks and months ahead as we all work to rebuild from the effects of the pandemic," said Strutt.

Goodwill Industries Alberta has been seeing a large amount of donations since they reopened donation centres across the province on May 9.

“In the first 11 days of re-opening our donation centres, our organization had received about 11,000 donations. That number has since grown to over 17,000 donations,” said Doug Roxburgh, manager of marketing. “One donation can be one bag or one full size pickup truck full of items.”

Roxburgh says donors can either load a bin themselves at the donation centre or simply pop their trunk for employees to grab the items.

“We do ask for people to respect the individuals who have to handle your items, so please be clean, polite, and do what you can to make it easier for the attendants.”

Roxburgh says donated items are being stored for up to a week and disinfected and sanitized before being resold. 

Independently-owned stores will most likely be following close behind in reopening, and Cece Scriver, owner of the Toronto vintage store, Courage My Love, is currently working out the kinks in preparation for her store to open its doors.

“We’re a bigger store with many things to look at and touch so we are going to have hand sanitizer at all counters and doors,” she said – personal protective equipment will also be worn by all employees.

Scriver thinks she will allow customers to try on clothes, but will be sanitizing the fitting room between customers and setting the item in a separate room for two or more days if they choose not to purchase it. 

Scriver's confident that the vintage community will quickly bounce back as they have in the past, referring to the 1990s economic recession in Canada.

“All the vintage stores did better because the folks that had been shopping at Holts came back to us. They loved that we had amazing finds at cheaper prices.” 

Lead photo by

Salvation Army Canada

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