Board Chair Linda Blumenthal shows off just a fraction of the goodies to be found at Second Glance.
If you have ever walked through the doors of Second Glance then you are well aware of the thousands of previously loved items that can be purchased for pennies on the dollar of the original price. But have you ever stopped to wonder where those pennies go after they leave your purse and enter the till? You might be surprised at the amount of good all those pennies do in your community.
Second Glance is a Not For Profit enterprise that began in 1980 by a group of local women who wanted to create something sustainable that would continue to give back to Leduc and area for years to come. 33 years and 5 store expansions later, it's pretty safe to say that the ladies' vision has come to fruition.
In their first year, Second Glance was able to donate $2,000.00 back into the community, and in 2012 that amount had jumped to a staggering $103,735.00! So far in 2013 they have given $46,000.00 to worthy charities and initiatives such as RiseUp House, the Rodeo Of Smiles, Leduc & District Food Bank, and the Leduc Special Olympics, and they are already on track to top last year's donations. And most of this is done one nickel at a time.
"So many of our items are under a dollar." said Board Chair Linda Blumenthal. "It takes a lot of 20 cent items to make $46,000.00." she laughed. The staff is grateful for every single item that comes through the big overhead doors. "Without the support of the community we couldn't do what we do." averred Linda. "So even though we cannot accept large items like appliances or treadmills, pretty much anything else in working order that someone would buy, we will sell. We have everything from wedding dresses to wetsuits!"
They might not take large items but they have certainly gotten some odd items to sell. "We received a donation of two tools and we had no idea what they were for." shared Linda. "So we put a sign on them that just said 'Tools. Make an offer", and I think we sold them for $50.00!"
Raising money for donations isn't the only way that Second Glance makes a difference in Leduc. They are a part of the LINX work experience program and currently have two special needs workers that come in and help out at the store. They also work with the Fine Option program as well as the Youth Justice System and occasionally young offenders can be found working alongside of some of the volunteers to try and get their lives back on track.
And it's never expected but it means the world to everyone at Second Glance when people from the community give back to them. For example, until recently, there was a hand written sign on the fence directing donations to be taken to the overhead doors at the back of the building. This sign was done in black marker and due to exposure to weather, had to constantly be touched up with a Sharpie to remain relatively clear and legible. This meant that even in minus 40, if the sign had faded out, someone had to stand outside and colour in the sign on the fence. Then just last week, Linda shared that Sharon Benke from Triple J Signs showed up and asked her to come outside because she had an unusual donation in her car that she needed help with. "We walked outside, she opened her trunk, and there was a brand new, professionally printed sign to replace our old hand drawn one!" Visibly touched by the gesture Linda said, "It is so important for our staff and volunteers to know that what we do here really is important, people are paying attention to what we do, and that they are appreciated. Gestures like that mean so much to us."
Everyone in the shop attempts to find ways to grab the attention of the public, draw them through the doors, and get them supporting this important cause. One of their extremely successful ideas is their silent auction days which happen twice a year. The next auction takes place on April 5th & 6th with bids closing at 3pm on the 6th. "The store is a zoo on those days!" laughed Linda. "On the second day of the auction we sometimes have people that hover by their chosen item for the last couple of hours to make sure they don't get outbid on them! And occasionally we will set aside items that come in that we think are pretty special and specifically hold them until the auction days, so you just never know what you might find out on the tables!"
Another idea that has proven very popular are the feature tables that are set up every week or two. "Last Saturday we created a purse table because we had recently received donations of a bunch of really nice purses. We sold $1,200.00 in purses that day!" shared Linda.
Christmas is also a hugely important time for the shop and this last year they raised over $26,000.00 with which to help other charities.
It's also important to note that nothing goes to waste at Second Glance. "We put together big bags of different types of rags and several local businesses buy all their rags from us." said Linda. "And sometimes we will get an excess of a certain item, in particular, clothing, and we will call the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation and they will come and pick up our excess items and use them in their charitable foundation so they don't end up in the landfill."
Second Glance also runs a Gifts In Kind program where families in crisis can be referred by various local helping agencies, and the families can come and pick out the items they need to get them through the next little while, at no charge. The shop also sent items up to the shelters in Slave Lake after fire devastated the town. Even other charities come and shop for some of their needs at Second Glance because they know they too are supporting a good cause, and their precious dollars can be made to go much farther there.
A group of knitters have also decided to donate their talents by knitting gloves, scarves and toques that go on Second Glance's mitten tree, and are also donated to the Leduc Food Bank to be distributed in their Christmas hampers.
When asked what the future looks like for Second Glance, Linda stated "We are in a really good place right now so we would just like to see it keep going strong. But again, the most important thing is to have the support of this community, because without donations we couldn't do what we do, and we are very grateful for it."
I think it's pretty safe to say the reverse is true as well…this community is very grateful for Second Glance.