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Women in Need Society shuts down five Calgary thrift stores amid COVID-19

A Calgary organization that helps vulnerable women and their families has temporarily closed its five family thrift stores due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was made Tuesday by the Women in Need Society (WINS) of Calgary.

As a social enterprise, the revenue from the five stores funds nearly 85 per cent of the group’s costs. WINS provides women with resources and access to knowledge and skills to help them become self-sufficient.  

“When our stores are open, this means our business model is very stable and successful,” said Karen Ramchuk, WINS Executive Director.

“With our stores closed through the pandemic, the demand from Calgary’s most vulnerable may reach an all-time high and WINS may not have revenue to support the need. I’m optimistic we will get through this together, but in the short-term, things will be extremely difficult.”

WINS supports more than 5,000 Calgary women and their families annually. They believe that number will rise because of the collapsing economy.

Though they were exercising all precautions and guidance from Alberta Health Services, WINS made the difficult decision to close.

“The welfare of Calgary women and their families is our number one priority. Closing our stores is a necessary but difficult step for us, but the best decision in the interest of public health,” said Ramchuk.

WINS will be able to continue its free goods program. It supplies clothing, furniture and other basic needs items to women. It will be offered at their Dover location, with curbside pickup.

Calgarians can help WINS

Ramchuk is hoping Calgarians will lend them a helping hand as they deal with the lingering effects of the coronavirus on their operations.

If people are doing spring cleaning and have clothing, furniture or other gently-used goods, hold on to those items for when WINS is operational, Ramchuk said.

Cash donations are also accepted.

“Immediate donations will support our core operating team to address our city’s most vulnerable populations through vital resources and in partnership with Calgary’s other vital agencies,” Ramchuck said.

Anyone in need of support can call WINS at 403-255-5102 EXT 226.