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Rising rent forces hospital’s thrift shop to relocate

By Patrick Colvin

Store manager James Ferrier stocking shelves at their new location.
Deborah Dunlap photo

Store manager James Ferrier stocking shelves at their new location. Deborah Dunlap photo

The non-profit VGH Thrift Shop Society had to relocate in August from Broadway near Main Street to Hastings Street and Nanaimo Street after their rent jumped from $6,000 a month to $11,000 in three years.

The Vancouver General Hospital thrift shop began in 2004 as an emergency clothing fund for patients. Since inception it has funded hospital renovations, provided new medical equipment, donated Christmas gifts to people in residential care, and has contributed more than $125,000 to the Vancouver General Hospital and the University of B.C. Hospital since 2010. They had been given a below market rate by their previous landlords, but when their building was sold, the rent skyrocketed to market value.

“It’s undoubtedly a wider problem,” said VGH Thrift Shop Society board president Brian Jones. “As a non-profit where our mandate, our reason for existence is to support the community through improvements to VGH. It’s just too much to bear, it just wasn’t sustainable financially moving forward so we had to move, and I’m sure there’s other businesses in a similar pickle.

“For us to be squeezed out in this manner does a huge disservice to the city as a whole, because the city is made up of different people from different countries, different walks of life, with different income levels, and it would be much poorer for not having that eclectic mix,” said Jones.

VGH Thrift Shop manager James Ferrier said the relocation has been positive, too.

“We really love our new store, we have as many items as we did in the old store, we did a big renovation and that’s kind of exciting for us,” said Ferrier. “We’ve kind of taken it up a notch, so it’s a very pleasant place, but kept our prices the same.”

The new shop is located at 2535 Hastings Street, and all net profits go to the Vancouver region in Vancouver Coastal Health.

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