New N.S. thrift store a ‘beautiful little space’ with abundance of opportunities

Hastings-Downey is a client of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, which works with women and gender-diverse people to address barriers and the root causes of criminalization.She is one of several society clients who have found structure and purpose through working at The Abundance Store, a recently opened thrift shop tucked away on Queen Street in downtown Dartmouth. Being able to gain work experience and work directly with members of the community has been a “beautiful thing,” she said.

Kaleigh Smith, the program coordinator for the Elizabeth Fry Society’s Abundance Program, said it can be difficult for people with criminal records to find employment after release. “While you’re inside (an institution), you start losing those life skills, and honestly, sometimes these women haven’t been able to develop life skills because of immense trauma and turbulent development,” Smith said.“Unemployment, inequity in education, lack of housing, all contribute to criminalization, so having something that addresses it helps support them along their recovery journey and will eliminate the recidivism that we often see sometimes.”

The store, which opened in April, is staffed by three employees of the Elizabeth Fry Society, as well as four clients. All of the clothes in stock come from donations, she said. “Every single dollar made from here will go back into being able to pay our women to work here, helping them afford paying for a seat in their academic endeavours of choice, stuff like that,” Smith said.

Clients of the Elizabeth Fry Society can get clothes there for free, but Smith noted that it’s important for them to keep prices low for the community as well. “Right now, everybody is experiencing the unaffordability of life,” she said. “Everyone needs clothes, so having something that’s affordable and attainable is definitely of great importance.”

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