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Free store forced to relocate

National Bank building sold


Published on July 11, 2017

Belinda Woods, founder of the Free Store, with a dress that was made from excess fabric donated to the store. The Free Store is being forced to move from its current location with the sale of the Water Street building that currently houses it.

©Millicent McKay/Journal Pioneer

When Belinda Woods noticed a need for an accessible outlet that featured clothing, furniture and other household items and tools, she opened a free store in the basement of the National Bank building on Water Street.

But with the recent sale of the building, Woods is worried it will mean the permanent closure of the store.

It’s hard to think that in this day and age that people are still faced with this. But it is happening and it’s happening in Summerside and across the Island.

Belinda Woods, founder of the Free Store

“We were asked to vacate the space. It’s my understanding that the new owners want to have it available in order to bring more businesses or companies into the building.”

Woods opened the store in December 2016.

“We’ve proven that this is a needed resource in the community and in return the community supports us. We see a couple hundred people each time we’re open.”

Woods learned on July 6 they would have to relocate the store by July 31.

“We’ve always known this wasn’t a permanent option. We were lucky to have the space for as long as we have. It was generously donated to us. We never could have guessed that it would reach this level.”

People come from across the Island, she added.

“You don’t realize the need until you see it like this. What’s really special is that when you come here, there is no judgement. You come and take as much as you need and don’t need to worry about what people think of you.”

Barb Dyment, a manager at the free store, said volunteering there has been rewarding.

“I have met so many people from all walks of life who believe that what we offer is needed.

“We’ve helped people in emergency situations, people starting over for various reasons, and people who could use a helping hand.”

To lose the store would be a blow to Islanders who need it, said Dyment.

“Shoppers are really grateful for the store. Some need paycheques for rent, gas, and groceries and don’t have any left over for luxuries like clothing, toys, furniture, small appliances and other household items.”

Woods agreed.

“It’s hard to think that in this day and age that people are still faced with this. But it is happening and it’s happening in Summerside and across the Island.”

Now Woods, Dyment and other free store volunteer staff are hoping a new space will be donated to house the store.

“We’ve got so much stuff. So maybe it is time to move on from here. It’s time to find something new.”

Attempts to contact Nelson Snow, the manager of the property, were made, but he was unable to be reached for comment.