All About the Community
Positive Apparel Thrift Store is dedicated to keeping our planet green, our footprint small and serving our community through our store.
Positive apparel is a family run thrift store. We have been in business since Jan 2009 and started off as a little store just off Historic Baker St. We started originally because of an article written in the Nelson Daily News about the amount of clothing going into the landfill. We wanted to help and started our little shop beside El taco on Victoria St in 2009. At the time we chose to raise money for the Second Chance Animal Shelter and so Paws-itive Apparel Thrift store was born.
After almost a year we were facing a difficult decision to close the store. With all three original owners working full time jobs and the birth of a child into the family, we could no longer continue to work our little store for free.
At the same time, the long standing local Thrift Store WIN was also facing the loss of key personnel and was preparing to close. So a few phone calls and many hours of discussion later, we decided to take a leap of faith and pick up where the WIN Store left off.
After much help from the landlord at the time, and the amazing Board Members of The WIN Store, Paws-itive Apparel took over the 7+ thousand square foot building in July 2010. Positive Apparel was born and with crossed fingers we hoped we would make it.
Over a decade later, we have listened and expanded to accommodate the needs and demands of the community; namely, what to do with all of the clothing donations; not enough job opportunities for our youth; and being able to diversify our services.
We started with the much needed textile dilemma. Most stores in the area had to cut off incoming clothing donations because they would quickly get overwhelmed. We contacted the Gleaners in Creston after reading an article about their textile recycling program. After making the decision to try our first load we quickly realized that this was a much needed program in the area. We currently pick up from 11 stores in the Kootenay region and are open to all other stores to bring us their unwanted textiles. We are sending 35-40 thousand pounds monthly to one of 3 companies we work with in Vancouver. You can read more about the recycling program here.
Although we started off very small, we realized there was a need for youth employment. We started working with the Nelson and District Youth Center and some government programs in order to facilitate youth employment and empowerment. We not only spoke at but provided training at NDYC over several years. We also provided in store training for over 20 youth over the course of the partnership with this organization. Although we could not hire all of them full time, we did hire many amazing youth whom we continue to follow and watch grow into amazing human beings. We are definitely a family run store and have a very close relationship with all of our employees. We consider all of them extended family and love sharing in their adventures.
Pawn and Cash for Gold
The decision to take on Pawn services was due to the public asking for the ability to trade, consign or sell items to us. At the time there were two pawn shops and one had just closed and the other was not always able to facilitate the needs of the many. Thank goodness this program had a gradual start. We did not have a lot of money to put into the project. With a small loan we gradually build a very small pawn operation. After a few years we decided to offer Cash for gold. We currently have a person on site that will assess items and provide a quote and or a referral to a gold buyer.
Adding our Truck
Although at first there were some strained relationships with other thrift stores, we really wanted to connect all the stores in a common goal creating a symbiotic relationship where we could help each other. Having a truck allowed us to facilitate that need. We shared resources like racking, contacts, stock and idea’s to build strong working relationships. We decided to lease a truck and hire a crew to pick up locally. (It is of worthy note to say, this was also the start of the ability to pick up unwanted textiles from other stores.)
We realized early on that there was a need for another used furniture store in Nelson. Although other stores had been established for many years, there was still more items looking to be donated than that store could accommodate at any given time. We have always felt that there was more than enough for all of us, and anyone who wanted to open or start another thrift store. We have also supported the opening of and the stocking of 4 or 5 other smaller used/thrift stores.
Having the truck was great but it was hard to keep staff to run it when we did not know when we would get a call for pick up. We decided to call a few local furniture and appliance stores. Being a part of the Nelson Downtown business association helped us, We already knew that some of those business owners were in need of this service. This allowed us to provide a few higher paying jobs and continue to pay the lease on our truck. This also allowed us to expand our circle of business associates and serve our community in new and exciting ways.
Is Positive Apparel a Charity or Not for Profit Society?
We are a privately run family business that supports 11+ employees
We support many other charities now and in the past by providing free items to:
Stepping Stones, Youth Center, Mental Health, Advocacy Center, Woman’s Center, Ankors, Romanian relief, Philippines project, the family place, and many local schools.
We have financially supported over the years;
SPCA, Phillipine’s Project, Nelson Food Cupboard, Kootenay Artisan fair, Glacier Gymnastics, local productions at the Capitol Theater and else where and the Family Place.
We also help local schools who require items for hot lunch, costumes and props for plays or productions, books for their libraries, and craft supplies free of charge.
Furthermore, we support the Capitol Theater and The Co-op radio by providing free items.
We work with all other thrift stores and consignment stores in the surrounding area providing them with a pick up services for their unwanted textiles allowing us to divert 35 - 40 thousand pounds of textiles out of the landfill each month from the Kootenay Boundary Area.