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N.B. thrift store offers both a good deal and a good cause


Right off the highway in Memramcook, N.B., is a thrift store that brings more than just good deals to the community.

Eco Vision Memramcook is a work and training centre for adults with intellectual disabilities and it’s a treasured space in the community, especially for its members.

“It gives them a space where they can come, they’re safe, they have friends,” said executive director Audrey Mazurek. “Myself personally, I feel like they’re often forgotten. I feel like if there’s nobody to fight for them or speak for them, they won’t fight for themselves.

“I take the role very seriously and I feel like they come here and they’re happy. They want to come here.”

The building on Old Shediac Road offers a thrift store that extends into two rooms and a redemption centre in the back.

Mazurek says there are currently 22 members who work there and another 14 who are on the waiting list to join the team.

Alex Richard is just one of the employees that customers have come to know and love.

“I like doing clothing and bottles and change. I sort, counting and I hang some clothes on the rack,” he explained.

Richard has been with Eco Vision for over a decade and while he loves everything about his job, when asked if he had a favourite part, he didn’t hesitate to answer.

“My favourite? I like doing in store,” he said.

Over the years, he says he’s met a lot of people and made a lot of friends, which makes sense with how busy the store is.

In the nearly three years since the thrift store opened, it’s outgrown its current space and will be moving to a new building up the road in the spring.

“We’re going to double our space in square footage,” said Mazurek. “We’ll have a lot more items. A lot of people were asking if our prices are going to go up, no, our prices aren’t going to go up. We’ll be able to have more furniture and bigger items that we cannot carry in this area. It will also alleviate our waitlist since we have some participants waiting to join the team.”

She says the goal is to add another eight members.

Eco Vision Memramcook runs on community donations and Mazurek they wanted to give back to the people that always give to them, which is why until Feb. 9 they’re selling coats for just $3.

“We have a lot, like the community is fantastic and it’s not just the Memramcook community, we get people from Dorchester, Sackville, Dieppe, Moncton, Shediac that come here, so we want to give back,” she said. “Everything is so expensive nowadays, we figured why not do a big deal.”

On top of the $3 jackets, she says everything else is also offered at low prices including $50 wedding gowns and prom dresses for under $20.

On Thursday morning, a handful of regular shoppers were at the store taking advantage of the $3 deal, but it isn’t just the bargains the draws them in; it’s the people.

“I know them all by name now and when you get here, they’re all happy to see you because you’re a familiar face, you know,” said Rita Arseneault, whose sister actually works at the store. “They’re kind of a little family, really. I can’t really say enough good stuff about this place.”

Phyllis Doucette usually shops with her daughter, but on Thursday she sent photos back to her family so no one missed out on what was available.

“We come to get clothes for the grandkids, there’s 11 of them, so we’re always looking,” she said. “Me and my husband have six kids all together and we’re always looking for deals and they’re nice people here and it’s a good cause too, it helps, so it’s nice to come and kind of give back. You’re receiving and then you’re giving back.”

Mazurek says that Eco Vision Memramcook really highlights inclusion and community.

“Great deals, great people, great community,” she said. “They’re happy to see people, communicate, talk to my group when you come in, just we’re all people, we’re all human.”

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